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First Edition 


THE decision to record my experiences, 
observations, and reactions during my 
stay in Russia I had made long before I 
thought of leaving that country. In fact, that 
was my main reason for departing from that 
tragically heroic land. 

The strongest of us are loath to give up a long- 
cherished dream. I had come to Russia pos- 
sessed by the hope that I should find a new-born 
country, with its people wholly consecrated to 
the great, though very difficult, task of revolu- 
tionary reconstruction. And I had fervently 
hoped that I might become an active part of the 
inspiring work. 

I found reality in Russia grotesque, totally 
unlike the great ideal that had borne me upon the 
crest of high hope to the land of promise. It re- 
quired fifteen long months before I could get my 
bearings. Each day, each week, each month 
added new links to the fatal chain that pulled 
down my cherished edifice. I fought desper- 
ately against the disillusionment. For a long 


time I strove against the still voice within me 
which urged me to face the overpowering facts. 
I would not and could not give up; 

Then came Kronstadt. It was the final 
wrench. It completed the terrible realization 
that the Russian Revolution was no more. 

I saw before me the Bolshevik State, formid- 
able, crushing every constructive revolutionary 
effort, suppressing, debasing, and disintegrating 
everything. Unable and unwilling to become a 
cog in that sinister machine, and aware that I 
could be of no practical use to Russia and her 
people, I decided to leave the country. Once 
out of it, I would relate honestly, frankly, and as 
objectively as humanly possible to me the story 
of my two years 1 stay in Russia. 

I left in December, 1921. I could have written 
then, fresh under the influence of the ghastly 
experience. But I waited four months before I 
could bring myself to write a series of articles. I 
delayed another four months before beginning 
the present volume. 

I do not pretend to write a history. Removed 
by fifty or a hundred years from the events he is 
describing, the historian may seem to be objec- 
tive. But real history is not a compilation of 
mere data. It is valueless without the human 


element which the historian necessarily gets from 
the writings of the contemporaries of the events 
in question. It is the personal reactions of the 
participants and observers which lend vitality to 
all history and make it vivid and alive. Thus, 
numerous histories have been written of the 
French Revolution; yet there are only a very few 
that stand out true and convincing, illuminative 
in the degree in which the historian has felt his 
subject through the medium of human docu- 
ments left by the contemporaries of the period. 

I myself and I believe, most students of his- 
tory have felt and visualized the Great French 
Revolution much more vitally from the letters 
and diaries of contemporaries, such as Mme. 
Roland, Mirabeau, and other eye witnesses, than 
from the so-called objective historians. By a 
strange coincidence a volume of letters written 
during the French Revolution, and compiled by 
the able German anarchist publicist, Gustav 
Landauer, came into my hands during the most 
critical period of my Russian experience. I was 
actually reading them while hearing the Bolshe- 
vik artillery begin the bombardment of the 
Kronstadt rebels. Those letters gave me a most 
vivid insight into the events of the French 
Revolution. As never before they brought 


home to me the realization that the Bolshevik 
regime in Russia was, on the whole, a significant 
replica of what had happened in France more 
than a century before. 

Great interpreters of the French Revolution, 
like Thomas Carlyle and Peter Kropotkin, drew 
their understanding and inspiration from the 
human records of the period. Similarly will the 
future historians of the Great Russian Revolu- 
tion if they are to write real history and not a 
mere compilation of facts draw from the im- 
pressions and reactions of those who have lived 
through the Russian Revolution, who have 
shared the misery and travail of the people, and 
who actually participated in or witnessed the 
tragic panorama in its daily unfoldment. 

While in Russia I had no clear idea how much 
had already been written on the subject of the 
Russian Revolution. But the few books which 
reached me occasionally impressed me as most 
inadequate. They were written by people with 
no first-hand knowledge of the situation and were 
sadly superficial. Some of the writers had spent 
from two weeks to two months in Russia, did 
not know the language of the country, and in 
most instances were chaperoned by official 
guides and interpreters. I do not refer here to the 


writers who, in and out of Russia, play the role 
of Bolshevik court functionaries. They are a 
class apart. With them I deal in the chapter on 
the "Travelling Salesmen of the Revolution." 
Here I have in mind the sincere friends of the 
Russian Revolution. The work of most of them 
has resulted in incalculable confusion and mis- 
chief. They have helped to perpetuate the 
myth that the Bolsheviki and the Revolution 
are synonymous. Yet nothing is further from 
the truth. 

The actual Russian Revolution took place in 
the summer months of 1917. During that period 
the peasants possessed themselves of the land, 
the workers of the factories, thus demonstrating 
that they knew well the meaning of social revolu- 
tion. The October change was the finishing 
touch to the work begun six months previously. 
In the great uprising the Bolsheviki assumed 
the voice of the people. They clothed them- 
selves with the agrarian programme of the 
Social Revolutionists and the industrial tactics 
of the Anarchists. But after the high tide of 
revolutionary enthusiasm had carried them into 
power, the Bolsheviki discarded their false 
plumes. It was then that began the spiritual 
separation between the Bolsheviki and the Rus- 


sian Revolution. With each succeeding day the 
gap grew wider, their interests more conflicting. 
To-day it is no exaggeration to state that the 
Bolsheviki stand as the arch enemies of the 
Russian Revolution. 

Superstitions die hard. In the case of this 
modern superstition the process is doubly hard 
because various factors have combined to ad- 
minister artificial respiration. International in- 
tervention, the blockade, and the very efficient 
world propaganda of the Communist Party have 
kept the Bolshevik myth alive. Even the 
terrible famine is being exploited to that end. 

How powerful a hold that superstition wields I 
realize from my own experience. I had always 
known that the Bolsheviki are Marxists. For 
thirty years I fought the Marxian theory as 
a cold, mechanistic, enslaving formula. In 
pamphlets, lectures, and debates I argued 
against it. I was therefore not unaware of what 
might be expected from the Bolsheviki. But 
the Allied attack upon them made them the 
symbol of the Russian Revolution, and brought 
me to their defence. 

From November, 1917, until February, 1918, 
while out on bail for my attitude against the 
war, I toured America in defence of the Bolshe- 


viki. I published a pamphlet in elucidation of 
the Russian Revolution and in justification of 
the Bolsheviki. I defended them as embodying 
in practice the spirit of the revolution, in spite of 
their theoretic Marxism. My attitude toward 
them at that time is characterized in the follow- 
ing passages from my pamphlet, "The Truth 
About the Bolsheviki:"* 

The Russian Revolution is a miracle in more than one 
respect. Among other extraordinary paradoxes it presents 
the phenomenon of the Marxian Social Democrats, Lenin 
and Trotsky, adopting Anarchist revolutionary tactics, 
while the Anarchists Kropotkin, Tcherkessov, Tschaikov- 
sky are denying these tactics and falling into Marxian 
reasoning, which they had all their lives repudiated as 
"German metaphysics." 

The Bolsheviki of 1903, though revolutionists, adhered to 
the Marxian doctrine concerning the industrialization of 
Russia and the historic mission of the bourgeoisie as a* 
necessary evolutionary process before the Russian masses 
could come into their own. The Bolsheviki of 1917 no 
longer believe in the predestined function of the bour- 
geoisie. They have been swept forward on the waves of 
the Revolution to the point of view held by the Anarchists 
since Bakunin; namely, that once the masses become con- 
scious of their economic power, they make their own history 
and need not be bound by traditions and processes of a 
4ead past which, like secret treaties, are made at a round 
table and are not dictated by life itself. 

*Mother Earth Publishing Association, New York, February, 1917. 


In 1918, Madame Breshkovsky visited the 
United States and began her campaign against 
the Bolsheviki. I was then in the Missouri 
Penitentiary. Grieved and shocked by the work 
of the " Little Grandmother of the Russian Revo- 
lution," I wrote imploring her to bethink her- 
self and not betray the cause she had given her 
life to. On that occasion I emphasized the fact 
that while neither of us agreed with the Bolshe- 
viki in theory, we should yet be one with them in 
defending the Revolution. 

When the Courts of the State of New York 
upheld the fraudulent methods by which I was 
disfranchised and my American citizenship of 
thirty-two years denied me, I waived my right 
of appeal in order that I might return to Russia 
and help in the great work. I believed fervently 
that the Bolsheviki were furthering the Revolu- 
tion and exerting themselves in behalf of the peo- 
ple. I clung to my faith and belief for more 
than a year after my coming to Russia. 

Observation and study, extensive travel 
through various parts of the country, meeting 
with every shade of political opinion and every 
variety of friend and enemy of the Bolsheviki 
all convinced me of the ghastly delusion which 
had been foisted upon the world. 


I refer to these circumstances to indicate that 
my change of mind and heart was a painful 
and difficult process, and that my final decision 
to speak out is for the sole reason that the peo- 
ple everywhere may learn to differentiate be- 
tween the Bolsheviki and the Russian Revolu- 

The conventional conception of gratitude is 
that one must not be critical of those who have 
shown him kindness. Thanks to this notion 
parents enslave their children more effectively 
than by brutal treatment; and by it friends 
tyrannize over one another. In fact, all human 
relationships are to-day vitiated by this noxious 

Some people have upbraided me for my critical 
attitude toward the Bolsheviki. "How un- 
grateful to attack the Communist Government 
after the hospitality and kindness she enjoyed in 
Russia," they indignantly exclaim. I do not 
mean to gainsay that I have received advantages 
while I was in Russia. I could have received 
many more had I been willing to serve the powers 
that be. It is that very circumstance which has 
made it bitter hard for me to speak out against 
the evils as I saw them day by day. But finally 
I realized that silence is indeed a sign of consent. 


Not to cry out against the betrayal of the Rus- 
sian Revolution would have made me a party to 
that betrayal. The Revolution and the welfare 
of the masses in and out of Russia are by far too 
important to me to allow any personal consider- 
ation for the Communists I have met and learned 
to respect to obscure my sense of justice and to 
cause me to refrain from giving to the world my 
two years' experience in Russia. 

In certain quarters objections will no doubt 
be raised because I have given no names of the 
persons I am quoting. Some may even exploit 
the fact to discredit my veracity. But I prefer 
to face that rather than to turn any one over to 
the tender mercies of the Tcheka, which would 
inevitably result were I to divulge the names of 
the Communists or non-Communists who felt 
free to speak to me. Those familiar with the 
real situation in Russia and who are not under 
the mesmeric influence of the Bolshevik supersti- 
tion or in the employ of the Communists will 
bear me out that I have given a true picture. 
The rest of the world will learn in due time. 

Friends whose opinion I value have been good 
enough to suggest that my quarrel with the 
Bolsheviki is due to my social philosophy rather 
than to the failure of the Bolshevik regime. As 


an Anarchist, they claim, I would naturally in- 
sist on the importance of the individual and of 
personal liberty, but in the revolutionary period 
both must be subordinated to the good of the 
whole. Other friends point out that destruction, 
violence, and terrorism are inevitable factors in 
a revolution. As a revolutionist, they say, I 
cannot consistently object to the violence prac- 
tised by the Bolsheviki. 

Both these criticisms would be justified had I 
come to Russia expecting to find Anarchism real- 
ized, or if I were to maintain that revolutions can 
be made peacefully. Anarchism to me never 
was a mechanistic arrangement of social rela- 
tionships to be imposed upon man by political 
scene-shifting or by a transfer of power from one 
social class to another. Anarchism to me was 
and is the child, not of destruction, but of con- 
struction the result of growth and develop- 
ment of the conscious creative social efforts of a 
regenerated people. I do not therefore expect 
Anarchism to follow in the immediate footsteps 
of centuries of despotism and submission. And 
I certainly did not expect to see it ushered in 
by the Marxian theory. 

I did, however, hope to find in Russia at least 
the beginnings of the social changes for which 


the Revolution had been fought. Not the fate 
of the individual was my main concern as a 
revolutionist. I should have been content if the 
Russian workers and peasants as a whole had 
derived essential social betterment as a result of 
the Bolshevik regime. 

Two years of earnest study, investigation, and 
research convinced me that the great benefits 
brought to the Russian people by Bolshevism 
exist only on paper, painted in glowing colours 
to the masses of Europe and America by efficient 
Bolshevik propaganda. L As advertising wizards 
the Bolsheviki excel anything the world had ever 
known before. But in reality the Russian peo- 
ple have gained nothing Trom the Bolshevik ex- 
periment. To be sure, the peasants have the 
land; not by the grace of the Bolsheviki, but 
through their own direct efforts, set in motion 
long before the October change. That the 
peasants were able to retain the land is due 
mostly to the static Slav tenacity; owing to the 
circumstance that they form by far the largest 
part of the population and are deeply rooted in 
the soil, they could not as easily be torn away 
from it as the workers from their means of pro- 

The Russian workers, like the peasants, also 


employed direct action. They possessed them- 
selves of the factories, organized their own shop 
committees, and were virtually in control of the 
economic life of Russia. But soon they were 
stripped of their power and placed under the 
industrial yoke of the Bolshevik State. Chattel 
slavery became the lot of the Russian proletar- 
iat. It was suppressed and exploited in the 
name of something which was later to bring it 
comfort, light, and warmth. Try as I might I 
could find nowhere any evidence of benefits 
received either by the workers or the peasants 
from the Bolshevik regime. 

On the other hand, I did find the revolution- 
ary faith of the people broken, the spirit of 
solidarity crushed, the meaning of comradeship 
and mutual helpfulness distorted. One must 
have lived in Russia, close to the everyday af- 
fairs of the people; one must have seen and felt 
their utter disillusionment and despair to ap- 
preciate fully the disintegrating effect of the 
Bolshevik principle and methods disintegrating 
all that was once the pride and the glory of revolu- 
tionary Russia. 

The argument that destruction and terror are 
part of revolution I do not dispute. I know that 
in the past every great political and social change 

xviii PREFACE 

necessitated violence. America might still be 
under the British yoke but for the heroic colo- 
nists who dared to oppose British tyranny by 
force of arms. Black slavery might still be a 
legalized institution in the United States but for 
the militant spirit of the John Browns. I have 
never denied that violence is inevitable, nor do I 
gainsay it now. Yet it is one thing to employ 
violence in combat, as a means of defence. It is 
quite another thing to make a principle of terror- 
ism, to institutionalise it, to assign it the most 
vital place in the social struggle. Such terrorism 
begets counter-revolution and in turn itself be- 
comes counter-revolutionary. 

Rarely has a revolution been fought with as 
little violence as the Russian Revolution. Nor 
would have Red Terror followed had the people 
and the cultural forces remained in control of 
the Revolution. This was demonstrated by the 
spirit of fellowship and solidarity which pre- 
vailed throughout Russia during ftie first months 
after the October revolution. But an insig- 
nificant minority bent on creating an absolute 
State is necessarily driven to oppression and 

There is another objection to my criticism on 
the part of the Communists. Russia is on strike, 


they say, and it is unethical for a revolutionist 
to side against the workers when they are strik- 
ingagainst their masters. That is pure demagog- 
uery practised by the Bolsheviki to silence 

It is not true that the Russian people are on 
strike. On the contrary, the truth of the matter 
is that the Russian people have been locked out 
and that the Bolshevik State even as the 
bourgeois industrial master uses the sword and 
the gun to keep the peopjf out. In the case of 
the Bolsheviki this tyranny is masked by a world- 
stirring slogan: thus they have succeeded in 
blinding the masses. Just because I am a revo- 
lutionist I refuse to side with the master class, 
which in Russia is called the Communist Party. 

Till the end of my days my place shall be with 
the disinherited and oppressed. It is immate- 
rial to me whether Tyranny rules in the Kremlin 
or in any other seat of the mighty, I could do 
nothing for Buffering Russia while in that 
country. Perhaps I can do something now by 
pointing out the lessons of the Russian expe- 
rience. Not my concern for the Russian people 
only has prompted the writing of this volume: 
it is my interest in the masses everywhere. 

The masses, like the individual, may not 


readily learn from the experience of others. Yet 
those who have gained the experience must 
speak out, if for no other reason than that they 
cannot in justice to themselves and their ideal 
support the great delusion revealed to them. 

Berlin, July, 1922. 



PREFACE ... . v 













TION 118 










XXI. KIEV 211 






ON THE night of December 21, 1919, 
together with two hundred and forty- 
eight other political prisoners, I was de- 
ported from America. Although it was gener- 
ally known we were to be deported, few really 
believed that the United States would so com- 
pletely deny her past as an asylum for political 
refugees, some of whom had lived and worked in 
America for more than thirty years. 

In my own case, the decision to eliminate me 
first became known when, in 1909, the Federal 
authorities went out of their way to disfranchise 
the man whose name gave me citizenship. That 
Washington waited till 1917 was due to the cir- 
cumstance that the psychologic moment for the 
finale was lacking. Perhaps I should have con- 


tested my case at that time. With the then- 
prevalent public opinion, the Courts would 
probably not have sustained the fraudulent pro- 
ceedings which robbed me of citizenship. But 
it did not seem credible then that America would 
stoop to the Tsaristic method of deportation. 

Our anti-war agitation added fuel to the war 
hysteria of 1917, and thus furnished the Federal 
authorities with the desired opportunity to 
complete the conspiracy begun against me in 
Rochester, N. Y., 1909. 

It was on December 5, 1919, while in Chicago 
lecturing, that I was telegraphically apprised of 
the fact that the order for my deportation was 
final. The question of my citizenship was then 
raised in court, but was of course decided ad- 
versely. I had intended to take the case toa 
higher tribunal, but finally I decided to carry 
the matter no further: Soviet Russia was luring 

Ludicrously secretive were the authorities 
about our deportation. To the very last mo- 
ment we were kept in ignorance as to the time. 
Then, unexpectedly, in the wee small hours of 
December 2ist we were spirited away. The 
scene set for this performance was most thrilling. 
It was six o'clock Sunday morning, December 


21, 1919, when under heavy military convoy we 
stepped aboard the Buford. 

For twenty-eight days we were prisoners. 
Sentries at our cabin doors day and night, sen- 
tries on deck during the hour we were daily 
permitted to breathe the fresh air. Our men 
comrades were cooped up in dark, damp quarters, 
wretchedly fed, all of us in complete ignorance of 
the direction we were to take. Yet our spirits 
were high Russia, free, new Russia was before 

All my life Russia's heroic struggle for freedom 
was as a beacon to me. The revolutionary zeal of 
her martyred men and women, which neither 
fortress nor katorga could suppress, was my in- 
spiration in the darkest hours. When the news 
of the February Revolution flashed across the 
world, I longed to hasten to the land which had 
performed the miracle and had freed her people 
from the age-old yoke of Tsarism. But America 
held me. The thought of thirty years of strug- 
gle for my ideals, of my friends and associates, 
made it impossible to tear myself away. I would 
go to Russia later, I thought. 

Then came America's entry into the war and 
the need of remaining true to the American peo- 
ple who were swept into the hurricane against 


their will. After all, I owed a great debt, I owed 
my growth and development to what was finest 
and best in America, to her fighters for liberty, 
to the sons and daughters of the revolution to 
come. I would be true to them. But the 
frenzied militarists soon terminated my work. 

At last I was bound for Russia and all else was 
almost blotted out. I would behold with mine 
own eyes matushka Rossiya, the land freed from 
political and economic masters; the Russian 
dubinushka, as the peasant was called, raised 
from the dust; the Russian worker, the modern 
Samson, who with a sweep of his mighty arm had 
pulled down the pillars of decaying society. The 
twenty-eight days on our floating prison passed 
in a sort of trance. I was hardly conscious of 
my surroundings. 

Finally we reached Finland, across which we 
were forced to journey in sealed cars. On the 
Russian border we were met by a committee of 
the Soviet Government, headed by Zorin. They 
had come to greet the first political refugees 
driven from America for opinion's sake. 

It was a cold day, with the earth a sheet of 
white, but spring was in our hearts. Soon we 
were to behold revolutionary Russia. I pre- 
ferred to be alone when I touched the sacred 


soil: my exaltation was too great, and I feared I 
might not be able to control my emotion. When 
I reached Beloostrov the first enthusiastic recep- 
tion tendered the refugees was over, but the 
place was still surcharged with intensity of 
feeling. I could sense the awe and humility 
of our group who, treated like felons in the 
United States, were here received as dear brothers 
and comrades and welcomed by the Red soldiers, 
the liberators of Russia. 

From Beloostrov we were driven to the 
village where another reception had been pre- 
pared: A dark hall filled to suffocation, the 
platform lit up by tallow candles, a huge red 
flag, on tLe stage a group of women in black 
nuns 5 attire. I stood as in a dream in the breath- 
less silence. Suddenly a voice ran out. It 
beat like metal on my ears and seemed unin- 
spired, but it spoke of the great suffering of the 
Russian people and of the enemies of the Revolu- 
tion. Others addressed the audience, but I was 
held by the women in black, their faces ghastly 
in the yellow light. Were these really nuns? 
Had the Revolution penetrated even the walls of 
superstition? Had the Red Dawn broken into 
the narrow lives of these ascetics ? It all seemed 
strange, fascinating. 


Somehow I found myself on the platform. I 
could only blurt out that like my comrades I 
had not come to Russia to teach : I had come to 
learn, to draw sustenance and hope from her, to 
lay down my life on the altar of the Revolution. 

After the meeting we were escorted to the 
waiting Petrograd train, the women in the black 
hood intoning the "Internationale," the whole 
audience joining in. I was in the car with our 
host, Zorin, who had lived in America and spoke 
English fluently. He talked enthusiastically 
about the Soviet Government and its marvellous 
achievements. His conversation was illumina- 
tive, but one phrase struck me as discordant. 
Speaking of the political organization of his 
Party, he remarked: "Tammany Hall has noth- 
ing on us, and as to Boss Murphy, we could teach 
him a thing or two/' I thought the man was 
jesting. What relation could there be between 
Tammany Hall, Boss Murphy, and the Soviet 
Government ? 

I inquired about our comrades who had has- 
tened from America at the first news of the Revo- 
lution. Many of them had died at the front, 
Zorin informed me, others were working with the 
Soviet Government. And Shatov? William 
Shatov, a brilliant speaker and able organizer, 


was a well-known figure in America, frequently 
associated with us in our work. We had sent 
him a telegram from Finland and were much 
surprised at his failure to reply. Why did not 
Shatov come to meet us? "Shatov had to 
leave for Siberia, where he is to take the post of 
Minister of Railways/* said Zorin. 

In Petrograd our group again received an 
ovation. Then the deportees were taken to the 
famous Tauride Palace, where they were to be 
fed and housed for the night. Zorin asked 
Alexander Berkman and myself to accept his 
hospitality. We entered the waiting automo- 
bile. The city was dark and deserted; not a 
living soul to be seen anywhere. We had not 
gone very far when the car was suddenly halted, 
and an electric light flashed into our eyes. It was 
the militia, demanding the password. Petro- 
grad had recently fought back the Yudenitch 
attack and was still under martial law. The proc- 
ess was repeated frequently along the route. 
Shortly before we reached our destination we 
passed a well-lighted building " It is our station 
house," Zorin explained, "but we have few pris- 
oners there now. Capital punishment is abol- 
ished and we have recently proclaimed a gen- 
eral political amnesty." 


Presently the automobile came to a halt. 
"The First House of the Soviets," said Zorin, 
"the living place of the most active members of 
our Party/' Zorin and his wife occupied two 
rooms, simply but comfortably furnished. Tea 
and refreshments were served, and our hosts 
entertained us with the absorbing story of the 
marvellous defence the Petrograd workers had 
organized against the Yudenitch forces. How 
heroically the men and women, even the chil- 
dren, had rushed to the defence of the Red City ! 
What wonderful self-discipline and coopera- 
tion the proletariat demonstrated. The evening 
passed in these reminiscences, and I was about to 
retire to the room secured for me when a young 
woman arrived who introduced herself as the 
sister-in-law of "Bill" Shatov. She greeted us 
warmly and asked us to come up to see her sister 
who lived on the floor above. When we reached 
their apartment I found myself embraced by 
big jovial Bill himself. How strange of Zorin to 
tell me that Shatov had left for Siberia! What 
did it mean? Shatov explained that he had 
been ordered not to meet us at the border, to 
prevent his giving us our first impressions of 
Soviet Russia. He had fallen into disfavour 
with the Government and was being sent to 


Siberia into virtual exile. His trip had been 
delayed and therefore we still happened to find 

We spent much time with Shatov before he 
left Petrograd. For whole days I listened to his 
story of the Revolution, with its light and 
shadows, and the developing tendency of the 
Bolsheviki toward the right. Shatov, however, 
insisted that it was necessary for all the revolu- 
tionary elements to work with the Bolsheviki 
Government. Of course, the Communists had 
made many mistakes, but what they did was 
inevitable, imposed upon them by Allied inter- 
ference and the blockade. 

A few days after our arrival Zorin asked 
Alexander Berkman and myself to accompany 
him to Smolny. Smolny, the erstwhile boarding 
school for the daughters of the aristocracy, had 
been the centre of revolutionary events. Al- 
most every stone had played its part. Now it 
was the seat of the Petrograd Government. I 
found the place heavily guarded and giving the 
impression of a beehive of officials and govern- 
ment employees. The Department of the Third 
International was particularly interesting. It 
was the domain of Zinoviev. I was much im- 
pressed by the magnitude of it all. 


After showing us about, Zorin invited us to 
the Smolny dining room. The meal consisted of 
good soup, meat and potatoes, bread and tea < 
rather a good meal in starving Russia, I thought. 

Our group of deportees was quartered in 
Smolny. I was anxious about my travelling 
companions, the two girls who had shared my 
cabin on the Buford. I wished to take them 
back with me to the First House of the Soviet. 
Zorin sent for them. They arrived greatly ex- 
cited and told us that the whole group of de- 
portees had been placed under military guard* 
The news was startling. The people who had 
been driven out of America for their political 
opinions, now in Revolutionary Russia again 
prisoners three days after their arrival. What 
had happened ? 

We turned to Zorin. He seemed embar- 
rassed. "Some mistake," he said, and immedi- 
ately began to make inquiries. It developed 
that four ordinary criminals had been found 
among the politicals deported by the United 
States Government, and therefore a guard was 
placed over the whole group. The proceeding 
seemed to me unjust and uncalled for. It was 
my first lesson in Bolshevik methods. 



MY PARENTS had moved to St. Peters- 
burg when I was thirteen. Under the 
discipline of a German school in Konigs- 
berg and the Prussian attitude toward every- 
thing Russian, I had grown up in the atmosphere 
of hatred to that country. I dreaded especially 
the terrible Nihilists who had killed Tsar Alex- 
ander II, so good and kind, as I had been taught. 
St. Petersburg was to me an evil thing. But the 
gayety of the city, its vivacity and brilliancy, 
soon dispelled my childish fancies and made the 
city appear like a fairy dream. Then my curios- 
ity was aroused by the revolutionary mystery 
which seemed to hang over everyone, and of 
which no one dared to speak. When four years 
later I left with my sister for America I was no 
longer the German Gretchen to whom Russia 
spelt evil. My whole soul had been transformed 
and the seed planted for what was to be my 
life's work. Especially did St. Petersburg re- 


main in my memory a vivid picture, full of life 
and mystery. 

I found Petrograd of 1920 quite a different 
place. It was almost in ruins, as if a hurricane 
had swept over it. The houses looked like 
broken old tombs upon neglected and forgotten 
cemeteries. The streets were dirty and de- 
serted; all life had gone from them. The popu- 
lation of Petrograd before the war was almost 
two million; in 1920 it had dwindled to five 
hundred thousand. The people walked about 
like living corpses; the shortage of food and fuel 
was slowly sapping the city; grim death was 
clutching at its heart. Emaciated and frost- 
bitten men, women, and children were being 
whipped by the common lash, the search fora 
piece of bread or a stick of wood. It was a 
heart-rending sight by day, an oppressive weight 
at night. Especially were the nights of the first 
month in Petrograd dreadful. The utter still- 
ness of the large city was paralysing. It fairly 
haunted me, this awful oppressive silence broken 
only by occasional shots. I would lay awake try- 
ing to pierce the mystery. Did not Zorin say 
that capital punishment had been abolished ? Why 
this shooting ? Doubts disturbed my mind, but I 
tried to wave them aside. I had come to learn. 


Much of my first knowledge and impressions 
of the October Revolution and the events that 
followed I received from the Zorins. As already 
mentioned, both had lived in America, spoke 
English, and were eager to enlighten me upon 
the history of the Revolution. They were de- 
voted to the cause and worked very hard; he, 
especially, who was secretary of the Petrograd 
committee of his party, besides editing the 
daily, Krasnaya Gazetta, and participating in 
other activities. 

It was from Zorin that I first learned about 
that legendary figure, Makhno. The latter was 
an Anarchist, I was informed, who under the 
Tsar had been sentenced to katorga. Liberated 
by the February revolution, he became the leader 
of a peasant army in the Ukraina, proving him- 
self extremely able and daring and doing splendid 
work in the defence of the Revolution. For 
some time Makhno worked in harmony with the 
Bolsheviki, fighting the counter-revolutionary 
forces. Then he became antagonistic, and now 
his army, recruited from bandit elements, was 
fighting the Bolsheviki. Zorin related that he 
had been one of a committee sent to Makhno to 
bring about an understanding. But Makhno 
would not listen to reason. He continued his 


warfare against the Soviets and was considered 
a dangerous counter-revolutionist. 

I had no means of verifying the story, and I 
was far from disbelieving the Zorins. Both ap- 
peared most sincere and dedicated to their work, 
types of religious zealots ready to burn the 
heretic, but equally ready to sacrifice their own 
lives for their cause. I was much impressed by 
the simplicity of their lives. Holding a re- 
sponsible position, Zorin could have received 
special rations, but they lived very poorly, their 
supper often consisting only of herring, black 
bread, and tea. I thought it especially admirable 
because Lisa Zorin was with child at the time. 

Two weeks after my arrival in Russia I was 
invited to attend the Alexander Herzen com- 
memoration in the Winter Palace. The white 
marble hall where the gathering took place 
seemed to intensify the bitter frost, but the peo- 
ple present were unmindful of the penetrating 
cold. I also was conscious only of the unique 
situation: Alexander Herzen, one of the most 
hated revolutionists of his time, honoured in the 
Winter Palace! Frequently before the spirit of 
Herzen had found its way into the house of the 
Romanovs. It was when the "Kolokol," pub- 
lished abroad and sparkling with the brilliancy of 


Herzen and Turgenev, would in some mysterious 
manner be discovered on the desk of the Tsar. 
Now the Tsars were no more, but the spirit of 
Herzen had risen again and was witnessing the 
realization of the dream of one of Russia's great 

One evening I was informed that Zinoviev had 
returned from Moscow and would see me. He 
arrived about midnight. He looked very tired 
and was constantly disturbed by urgent mes- 
sages. Our talk was of a general nature, of the 
grave situation in Russia, the shortage of food 
and fuel then particularly poignant, and about 
the labour situation in America. He was anx- 
ious to know " how soon the revolution could be 
expected in the United States." He left upon me 
no definite impression, but I was conscious of 
something lacking in the man, thougli I could 
not determine at the time just what it was. 

Another Communist I saw much of the first 
weeks was John Reed. I had known him in 
America. He was living in the Astoria, working 
hard and preparing for his return to the United 
States. He was to journey through Latvia and 
he seemed apprehensive of the outcome. He 
had been in Russia during the October days and 
this was his second visit. Like Shatov he also 


insisted that the dark sides of the Bolshevik 
regime were inevitable. He believed fervently 
that the Soviet Government would emerge from 
its narrow party lines and that it would pres- 
ently establish the Communistic Commonwealth. 
We spent much time together, discussing the 
various phases of the situation. 

So far I had met none of the Anarchists and 
their failure to call rather surprised me. One 
day a friend I had known in the States came to 
inquire whether I would see several members of 
an Anarchist organization. I readily assented. 
From them I learned a version of the Russian 
Revolution and the Bolshevik regime utterly 
different from what I had heard before. It was 
so startling, so terrible that I could not believe 
it. They invited me to attend a small gathering 
they had called to present to me their views. 

The following Sunday I went to their confer- 
ence. Passing Nevsky Prospekt, near Liteiny 
Street, I came upon a group of women huddled 
together to protect themselves from the cold. 
They were surrounded by soldiers, talking and 
gesticulating. Those women, I learned, were 
prostitutes who were selling themselves for a 
pound of bread, a piece of soap or chocolate. 
The soldiers were the only ones who could af- 


ford to buy them because of their extra rations. 
Prostitution in revolutionary Russia. I won- 
dered. What is the Communist Government 
doing for these unfortunates? What are the 
Workers 5 and Peasants' Soviets doing? My 
escort smiled sadly. The Soviet Government 
had closed the houses of prostitution and was 
now trying to drive the women off the streets, but 
hunger and cold drove them back again; besides, 
the soldiers had to be humoured. It was too 
ghastly, too incredible to be real, yet there they 
were those shivering creatures for sale and their 
buyers, the red defenders of the Revolution. 
"The cursed interventionists, the blockade 
they are responsible/' said my escort. Why, 
yes, the counter-revolutionists and the blockade 
are responsible, I reassured myself. I tried to 
dismiss the thought of that huddled group, but 
it clung to me. I felt something snap within me. 
At last we reached the Anarchist quarters, in 
a dilapidated house in a filthy backyard. I was 
ushered into a small room crowded with men and 
women. The sight recalled pictures of thirty 
years ago when, persecuted and hunted from 
place to place, the Anarchists in America were 
compelled to meet in a dingy hall on Orchard 
Street, New York, or in the dark rear room of a 


saloon. That was in capitalistic America, But 
this is revolutionary Russia, which the Anar- 
chists had helped to free. Why should they 
have to gather in secret and in such a place? 

That evening and the following day I listened 
to a recital of the betrayal of the Revolution by 
the Bolsheviki. Workers from the Baltic facto- 
ries spoke of their enslavement, Kronstadt sailors 
voiced their bitterness and indignation against 
the people they had helped to power and who 
had become their masters. One of the speakers 
had been condemned to death by the Bolsheviki 
for his Anarchist ideas, but had escaped and 
was now living illegally. He related how the 
sailors had been robbed of the freedom of their 
Soviets, how every breath of life was being cen- 
sored. Others spoke of the Red Terror and 
repression in Moscow, which resulted in the 
throwing of a bomb into the gathering of the 
Moscow section of the Communist Party in Sep- 
tember, 1919. They told me of the over-filled 
prisons, of the violence practised on the workers 
and peasants. I listened rather impatiently, for 
everything in me cried out against this indict- 
ment. It sounded impossible; it could not be. 
Someone was surely at fault, but probably it 
was they, my comrades, I thought. They were 


unreasonable, impatient for immediate results. 
Was not violence inevitable in a revolution, and 
was it not imposed upon the Bolsheviki by the 
Interventionists ? My comrades were indignant. 
" Disguise yourself so the Bolsheviki do not 
recognize you; take a pamphlet of Kropotkin 
and try to distribute it in a Soviet meeting. 
You will soon see whether we told you the truth. 
*Above all, get out of the First House of the 
Soviet, Live among the people and you will 
have all the proofs you need." 

How childish and trifling it all seemed in the 
face of the world event that was taking place in 
Russia! No, I could not credit their stories. 
I would wait and study conditions. But my 
mind was in a turmoil, and the nights became 
more oppressive than ever. 

The day arrived when I was given a chance to 
attend the meeting of the Petro-Soviet. It was 
to be a double celebration in honour of the return 
of Karl Radek to Russia and Joffe's report on the 
peace treaty with Esthonia. As usual I went 
with the Zorins. The gathering was in the 
Tauride Palace, the former meeting place of the 
Russian Duma. Every entrance to the hall 
was guarded by soldiers, the platform sur- 
rounded by them holding their guns at attention. 


The hall was crowded to the very doors. I was 
on the platform overlooking the sea of faces 
below. Starved and wretched they looked, 
these sons and daughters of the people, the 
heroes of Red Petrograd. How they had suf- 
fered and endured for the Revolution! I felt 
very humble before them. 

Zinoviev presided. After the "Internationale" 
had been sung by the audience standing, Zino- 
viev opened the meeting. He spoke at length. 
His voice is high pitched, without depth. The 
moment I heard him I realized what I had missed 
in him at our first meeting depth, strength of 
character. Next came Radek. He was clever, 
witty, sarcastic, and he paid his respects to the 
counter-revolutionists and to the White Guards. 
Altogether an interesting man and an interesting 

Joffe looked the diplomat. Well fed and 
groomed, he seemed rather out of place in that 
assembly. He spoke of the peace conditions 
with Esthonia, which were received with en- 
thusiasm by the audience. Certainly these 
people wanted peace. Would it ever come to 
Russia ? 

Last spoke Zorin, by far the ablest and most 
convincing that evening. Then the meeting 


was thrown open to discussion. A Menshevik 
asked for the floor. Immediately pandemonium 
broke loose. Yells of "Traitor!" " Kolchak!" 
"Counter-Revolutionist!" came from all parts 
of the audience and even from the platform. It 
looked to me like an unworthy proceeding for a 
revolutionary assembly. 

On the way home I spoke to Zorin about it. 
He laughed. " Free speech is a bourgeois super- 
stition," he said; "during a revolutionary period 
there can be no free speech." I was rather du- 
bious about the sweeping statement, but I felt 
that I had no right to judge. I was a newcomer, 
while the people at the Tauride Palace had 
sacrificed and suffered so much for the Revolu- 
tion. I had no right to judge. 



E'E went on. Each day brought new con- 
flicting thoughts and emotions. The 
feature which affected me most was the 
inequality I witnessed in my immediate environ- 
ment. I learned that the rations issued to the 
tenants of the First House of the Soviet (Astoria) 
were much superior to those received by the 
workers in the factories. To be sure, they were 
not sufficient to sustain life but no one in the 
Astoria lived from these rations alone. The 
members of the Communist Party, quartered in 
the Astoria, worked in Smolny, and the rations 
in Smolny were the best in Petrograd. More- 
over, trade was not entirely suppressed at that 
time. The markets were doing a lucrative busi- 
ness, though no one seemed able or willing to 
explain to me where the purchasing capacity 
came from. The workers could not afford to 
buy butter which was then 2,000 rubles a pound, 



sugar at 3,000, or meat at 1,000. The inequality 
was most apparent in the Astoria kitchen. I 
went there frequently, though it was torture to 
prepare a meal : the savage scramble for an inch 
of space on the stove, the greedy watching of the 
women lest any one have something extra in the 
saucepan, the quarrels and screams when some- 
one fished out a piece of meat from the pot of a 
neighbour! But there was one redeeming fea- 
ture in the picture it was the resentment of 
the servants who worked in the Astoria. They 
were servants, though called comrades, and they 
felt keenly the inequality : the Revolution to them 
was not a mere theory to be realized in years to 
come. It was a living thing. I was made aware 
of it one day. 

The rations were distributed at the Com- 
missary, but one had to fetch them himself. 
One day, while waiting my turn in the long line, 
a peasant girl came in and asked for vinegar. 
"Vinegar! who is it calls for such a luxury?" 
cried several women. It appeared that the girl 
was Zinoviev's servant. She spoke of him as 
her master, who worked very hard and was 
surely entitled to something extra. At once a 
storm of indignation broke loose. "Master! 
is that what we made the Revolution for, or was 


it to do away with masters ? Zinoviev is no more 
than we, and he is not entitled to more/ 5 

These workingwomen were crude, even brutal, 
but their sense of justice was instinctive. The 
Revolution to them was something fundamen- 
tally vital. They saw the inequality at every 
step and bitterly resented it. I was disturbed. 
I sought to reassure myself that Zinoviev and 
the other leaders of the Communists would not 
use their power for selfish benefit. It was the 
shortage of food and the lack of efficient organi- 
zation which made it impossible to feed all alike, 
and of course the blockade and not the Bolshe- 
viki was responsible for it. The Allied Inter- 
ventionists, who were trying to get at Russia's 
throat, were the cause. 

Every Communist I met reiterated this 
thought; even some of the Anarchists insisted on 
it. The little group antagonistic to the Soviet 
Government was not convincing. But how 
reconcile the explanation given to me with some 
of the stories I learned every day stories of 
systematic terrorism, of relentless persecution, 
and suppression of other revolutionary elements ? 

Another circumstance which perplexed me 
was that the markets were stacked with meat, 
fish, soap, potatoes, even shoes, every time that 


the rations were given out. How did these 
things get to the markets? Everyone spoke 
about it, but no one seemed to know. One day 
I was in a watchmaker's shop when a soldier 
entered. He conversed with the proprietor in 
Yiddish, relating that he had just returned from 
Siberia with a shipment of tea. Would the 
watchmaker take fifty pounds ? Tea was sold at 
a premium at the time no one but the privileged 
few could permit themselves such a luxury. Of 
course the watchmaker would take the tea. 
When the soldier left I asked the shopkeeper if he 
did not think it rather risky to transact such 
illegal business so openly. I happen to under- 
stand Yiddish, I told him. Did he not fear I 
would report him? "That's nothing/' the man 
replied nonchalantly, "the Tcheka knows all 
about it it draws its percentage from the 
soldier and myself." 

I began to suspect that the reason for much of 
the evil was also within Russia, not only outside 
of it. But then, I argued, police officials and 
detectives graft everywhere. That is the com- 
mon disease of the breed. In Russia, where 
scarcity of food and three years of starvation 
must needs turn most people into grafters, theft 
is inevitable. The Bolsheviki are trying tc 


suppress it with an iron hand. How can they 
be blamed? But try as I might I could not 
silence my doubts. I groped for some moral 
support, for a dependable word, for someone to 
shed light on the disturbing questions. 

It occurred to me to write to Maxim Gorki. 
He might help. I called his attention to his 
own dismay and disappointment while visiting 
America. He had come believing in her democ- 
racy and liberalism, and found bigotry and lack 
of hospitality instead. I felt sure Gorki would 
understand the struggle going on within me, 
though the^cause was not the same. Would he 
see me ? Two days later I received a short note 
asking me to call. 

I had admired Gorki for many years. He was 
the living affirmation of my belief that the crea- 
tive artist cannot be suppressed. Gorki, the 
child of the people, the pariah, had by his genius 
become one of the world's greatest, one who by 
his pen and deep human sympathy made the 
social outcast our kin. For years I toured 
America interpreting Gorki's genius to the 
American people, elucidating the greatness, 
beauty, and humanity of the man and his works. 
Now I was to see him and through him get a 
glimpse into the complex soul of Russia. 


I found the main entrance of his house nailed 
up, and there seemed to be no way of getting in. 
I almost gave up in despair when a woman 
pointed to a dingy staircase. I climbed to the 
very top and knocked on the first door I saw. It 
was thrown open, momentarily blinding me with 
a flood of light and steam from an overheated 
kitchen. Then I was ushered into a large din- 
ing room. It was dimly lit, chilly and cheerless 
in spite of a fire and a large collection of Dutch 
china on the walls. One of the three women I 
had noticed in the kitchen sat down at the table 
with me, pretending to read a book but all the 
while watching me out of the corner of her eye. 
It was an awkward half hour of waiting. 

Presently Gorki arrived. Tall, gaunt, and 
coughing, he looked ill and weary. He took me 
to his study, semi-dark and of depressing effect. 
No sooner had we seated ourselves than the door 
flew open and another young woman, whom I 
had not observed before, brought him a glass of 
dark fluid, medicine evidently. Then the tele- 
phone began to ring; a few minutes later Gorki 
was called out of the room. I realized that I 
would not be able to talk with him. Returning, 
he must have noticed my disappointment. We 
agreed to postpone our talk till some less dis- 


turbed opportunity presented itself. He es- 
corted me to the door, remarking, "You ought 
to visit the Baltflot [Baltic Fleet]. The Kron- 
stadt sailors are nearly all instinctive Anarchists. 
You would find a field there." I smiled. "In- 
stinctive Anarchists?" I said, "that means they 
are unspoiled by preconceived notions, unsophis- 
ticated, and receptive. Is that what you mean ?" 

"Yes, that is what I mean," he replied. 

The interview with Gorki left me depressed. 
Nor was our second meeting more satisfactory 
on the occasion of my first trip to Moscow. 
By the same train travelled Radek, Demyan 
Bedny, the popular Bolshevik versifier, and Zip- 
perovitch, then the president of the Petrograd 
unions. We found ourselves in the same car, 
the one reserved for Bolshevik officials and State 
dignitaries, comfortable and roomy. On the 
other hand, the "common" man, the non- 
Communist without influence, had literally to 
fight his way into the always overcrowded rail- 
way carriages, provided he had a propusk to 
travel a most difficult thing to procure. 

I spent the time of the journey discussing 
Russian conditions with Zipperovitch, a kindly 
man of deep convictions, and with Demyan 
Bedny, a big coarse-looking man. Radek held 


forth at length on his experiences in Germany 
and German prisons. 

I learned that Gorki was also on the train, and 
I was glad of another opportunity for a chat with 
him when he called to see me. The one thing 
uppermost in my mind at the moment was an 
article which had appeared in the Petrograd 
Pravda a few days before my departure. It 
treated of morally defective children, the writer 
urging prison for them. Nothing I had heard 
or seen during my six weeks in Russia so out- 
raged me as this brutal and antiquated attitude 
toward the child. I was eager to know what 
Gorki thought of the matter. Of course, he was 
opposed to prisons for the morally defective, he 
would advocate reformatories instead. "What 
do you mean by morally defective?" I asked. 
"Our young are the result of alcoholism rampant 
during the Russian-Japanese War, and of 
syphilis. What except moral defection could re- 
sult from such a heritage ?" he replied. I argued 
that morality changes with conditions and 
climate, and that unless one believed in the 
theory of free will one cannot consider morality 
a fixed matter. As to children, their sense of 
responsibility is primitive, and they lack the 
spirit of social adherence. But Gorki insisted 


that there was a fearful spread of moral defection 
among children and that such cases should be 

I then broached the problem that was troub- 
ling me most. What about persecution and 
terror were all the horrors inevitable, or was 
there some fault in Bolshevism itself? The 
Bolsheviki were making mistakes, but they were 
doing the best they knew how, Gorki said drily. 
Nothing more could be expected, he thought. 

I recalled a certain article by Gorki, pub- 
lished in his paper, New Lije^ which I had 
read in the Missouri Penitentiary. It was a 
scathing arraignment of the Bolsheviki. There 
must have been powerful reasons to change 
Gorki's point of view so completely. Perhaps 
he is right. I must wait. I must study the 
situation; I must get at the facts. Above all, 
I must see for myself Bolshevism at work. 

We spoke of the drama. On my first visit, 
by way of introduction, I had shown Gorki an 
announcement card of the dramatic course I had 
given in America. John Galsworthy was among 
the playwrights I had discussed then. Gorki 
expressed surprise that I considered Galsworthy 
an artist. In his opinion Galsworthy could not 
be compared^with Bernard Shaw. I had to dif- 


fer. I did not underestimate Shaw, but con- 
sidered Galsworthy the greater artist. I de- 
tected irritation in Gorki, and as his hacking 
cough continued, I broke off the discussion. He 
soon left. I remained dejected from the inter- 
view. It gave me nothing. 

When we pulled into the Moscow station my 
chaperon, Demyan Bedny, had vanished and I 
was left on the platform with all my traps. Radek 
came to my rescue. He called a porter, took me 
and my baggage to his waiting automobile and 
insisted that I come to his apartments in the 
Kremlin. There I was graciously received by 
his wife and invited to dinner served by their 
maid. After that Radek began the difficult 
task of getting me quartered in the Hotel Na- 
tional, known as the First House of the Moscow 
Soviet. With all his influence it required hours 
to secure a room for me. 

Radek's luxurious apartment, the maidserv- 
ant, the splendid dinner seemed strange in 
Russia. But the comradely concern of Radek 
and the hospitality of his wife were grateful to 
me. Except at the Zorins and the Shatovs I 
had not met with anything like it. I felt that 
kindliness, sympathy, and solidarity were still 
alive in Russia. 



COMING from Petrograd to Moscow is 
like being suddenly transferred from a 
desert to active life, so great is the con- 
trast. On reaching the large open square in 
front of the main Moscow station I was amazed 
at the sight of busy crowds, cabbies, and porters. 
The same picture presented itself all the way 
from the station to the Kremlin. The streets 
were alive with men, women, and children. Al- 
most everybody carried a bundle, or dragged a 
loaded sleigh. There was life, motion, and 
movement, quite different from the stillness that 
oppressed me in Petrograd. 

I noticed considerable display of the military 
in the city, and scores of men dressed in leather 
suits with guns in their belts. "Tcheka men, 
our Extraordinary Commission," explained 
Radek. I had heard of the Tcheka befq^: 
Petrograd talked of it with dread and hatred. 
However, the soldiers and Tchekists were never 



much in evidence in the city on the Neva. 
Here in Moscow they seemed everywhere. 
Their presence reminded me of a remark Jack 
Reed had made: " Moscow is a military encamp- 
ment/' he had said; "spies everywhere, the 
bureaucracy most autocratic. I always feel 
relieved when I get out of Moscow. But, then, 
Petrograd is a proletarian city and is permeated 
with the spirit of the Revolution. Moscow al- 
ways was hierarchical. It is much more so 
now/' I found that Jack Reed was right. Mos- 
cow was indeed hierarchical. Still the life was 
intense, varied, and interesting. What struck 
me most forcibly, besides the display of militar- 
ism, was the preoccupation of the people. There 
seemed to be no common interest between them. 
Everyone rushed about as a detached unit in 
quest of his own, pushing and knocking against 
everyone else. Repeatedly I saw women or 
children fall from exhaustion without any one 
stopping to lend assistance. People stared at 
me when I would bend over the heap on the 
slippery pavement or gather up the bundles 
that had fallen into the street. I spoke to friends 
about what looked to me like a strange lack of 
fellow-feeling. They explained it as a result 
partly of the general distrust and suspicion 


created by the Tcheka, and partly due to the 
absorbing task of getting the day's food. One 
had neither vitality nor feeling left to think of 
others. Yet there did not seem to be such a 
scarcity of food as in Petrograd, and the people 
were warmer and better dressed. 

I spent much time on the streets and in the 
market places. Most of the latter, as also the 
famous Soukharevka, were in full operation. 
Occasionally soldiers would raid the markets; 
but as a rule they were suffered to continue. 
They presented the most vital and interesting 
part of the city's life. Here gathered proletar- 
ian and aristocrat, Communist and bourgeois, 
peasant and intellectual. Here they were bound 
by the common desire to sell and buy, to trade 
and bargain. Here one could find for sale a 
rusty iron pot alongside of an exquisite ikon; an 
old pair of shoes and intricately worked lace; a 
few yards of cheap calico and a beautiful old 
Persian shawl. The rich of yesterday, hungry 
and emaciated, denuding themselves of their last 
glories; the rich of to-day buying it was indeed 
an amazing picture in revolutionary Russia. 

Who was buying the finery of the past, and 
where did the purchasing power come from? 
The buyers were numerous. In Moscow one 


was not so limited as to sources of information 
as in Petrograd; the very streets furnished that 

The Russian people even after four years of 
war and three years of revolution remained un- 
sophisticated. They were suspicious of strangers 
and reticent at first. But when they learned 
that one had come from America and did not 
belong to the governing political party, they 
gradually lost their reserve. Much information 
I gathered from them and some explanation of the 
things that perplexed me since my arrival. I 
talked frequently with the workers and peasants 
and the women on the markets. 

The forces which had led up to the Russian 
Revolution had remained terra incognita to these 
simple folk, but the Revolution itself had struck 
deep into their souls. They knew nothing of 
theories, but they believed that there was to be 
no more of the hated barin (master) and now the 
barin was again upon them. "The barin has 
everything/' they would say, "white bread, 
clothing, even chocolate, while we have nothing/ 9 
" Communism, equality, freedom/' they jeered, 
"lies and deception." 

I would return to the National bruised and 
battered, my illusions gradually shattered, my 


foundations crumbling. But I would not let go 
After all, I thought, the common people could 
not understand the tremendous difficulties con- 
fronting the Soviet Government : the imperialist 
forces arraigned against Russia, the many at- 
tacks which drained her of her men who other- 
wise would be employed in productive labour, the 
blockade which was relentlessly slaying Russia's 
young and weak. Of course, the people could 
not understand these things, and I must not be 
misled by their bitterness born of suffering. I 
must be patient. I must get to the source of 
the evils confronting me. 

The National, like the Petrograd Astoria, 
was a former hotel but not nearly in as good con- 
dition. No rations were given out there except 
three quarters of a pound of bread every two 
days. Instead there was a common dining 
room where dinners and suppers were served. 
The meals consisted of soup and a little meat, 
sometimes fish or pancakes, and tea. In the 
evening we usually had kasha and tea. The food 
was not too plentiful, but one could exist on it 
were it not so abominably prepared. 

I saw no reason for this spoiling of provisions. 
Visiting the kitchen I discovered an array of 
servants controlled by a number of officials, 


Commandants, and inspectors. The kitchen staff 
were poorly paid; moreover, they were not given 
the same food served to us. They resented 
this discrimination and their interest was not 
in their work. This situation resulted in much 
graft and waste, criminal in the face of the 
general scarcity of food. Few of the tenants 
of the National, I learned, took their meals in 
the common dining room. They prepared or 
had their meals prepared by servants in a sepa- 
rate kitchen set aside for that purpose. There, 
as in the Astoria, I found the same scramble for 
a place on the stove, the same bickering and 
quarrelling, the same greedy, envious watching of 
each other. Was that Communism in action, 
I wondered. I heard the usual explanation: 
Yudenitch, Denikin, Kolchak, the blockade 
but the stereotyped phrases no longer satisfied 

Before I left Petrograd Jack Reed said to me: 
"When you reach Moscow, look up Angelica 
Balabanova. She will receive you gladly and 
will put you up should you be unable to find a 
room." I had heard of Balabanova before, 
knew of her work, and was naturally anxious 
to meet her. 

A few days after reaching Moscow I called her 


up. Would she see me? Yes, at once, though 
she was not feeling well. I found Balabanova 
in a small, cheerless room, lying huddled up on 
the sofa. She was not prepossessing but for 
her eyes, large and luminous, radiating sympathy 
and kindness. She received me most graciously, 
like an old friend, and immediately ordered the 
inevitable samovar. Over our tea we talked 
of America, the labour movement there, our de- 
portation, and finally about Russia. I put to 
her the questions I had asked many Commun- 
ists regarding the contrasts and discrepancies 
which confronted me at every step. She sur- 
prised me by not giving the usual excuses; she 
was the first who did not repeat the old refrain. 
She did refer to the scarcity of food, fuel, and 
clothing which was responsible for much of the 
graft and corruption; but on the whole she 
thought life itself mean and limited. " A rock 
on which the highest hopes are shattered. Life 
thwarts the best intentions and breaks the 
finest spirits." she said. Rather an unusual 
view for a Marxian, a Communist, and one in 
the thick of the battle. I knew she was then 
secretary of the Third International. Here 
was a personality, one who was not a mere echo, 
one who fejt deeply the complexity of the 


Russian situation. I went away profoundly 
impressed, and attracted by her sad, luminous 

I soon discovered that Balabanova or Bala- 
banoff, as she preferred to be called was at the 
beck and call of everybody. Though poor in 
health and engaged in many functions, she yet 
found time to minister to the needs of her legion 
callers. Often she went without necessaries 
herself, giving away her own rations, always 
busy trying to secure medicine or some little 
delicacy for the sick and suffering. Her special 
concern were the stranded Italians of whom 
there were quite a number in Petrograd and 
Moscow. Balabanova had lived and worked 
in Italy for many years until she almost became 
Italian herself. She felt deeply with them, who 
were as far away from their native soil as from 
events in Russia. She was their friend, their 
advisor, their main support in a world of strife 
and struggle. Not only the Italians but almost 
everyone else was the concern of this remarkable 
little woman : no one needed a Communist mem- 
bership card to Angelica's heart. No wonder 
some of her comrades considered her a "senti- 
mentalist who wasted her precious time in 
philanthropy." Many verbal battles I had on 


this score with the type of Communist who had 
become callous and hard, altogether barren of 
the qualities which characterized the Russian 
idealist of the past. 

Similar criticism as of Balabanova I heard 
expressed of another leading Communist, Lun- 
acharsky. Already in Petrograd I was told 
sneeringly, "Lunacharsky is a scatterbrain who 
wastes millions on foolish ventures/' But I was 
eager to meet the man who was the Commissar 
of one of the important departments in Russia, 
that of education. Presently an opportunity 
presented itself. 

The Kremlin, the old citadel of Tsardom, I 
found heavily guarded and inaccessible to the 
"common" man. But I had come by appoint- 
ment and in the company of a man who had an 
admission card, and therefore passed the guard 
without trouble. We soon reached the Luna- 
charsky apartments, situated in an old quaint 
building within the walls. Though the reception 
room was crowded with people waiting to be 
admitted, Lunacharsky called me in as soon as I 
was announced. 

His greeting was very cordial. Did I "intend 
to remain a free bird" was one of his first ques- 
tions, or would I be willing to join him in his 


work? I was rather surprised. Why should 
one have to give up his freedom, especially in 
educational work? Were not initiative and 
freedom essential? However, I had come to 
learn from Lunacharsky about the revolutionary 
system of education in Russia, of which we had 
heard so much in America. I was especially 
interested in the care the children were receiving. 
The Moscow Pravda, like the Petrograd news- 
papers, had been agitated by a controversy 
about the treatment of the morally defective. I 
expressed surprise at such an attitude in Soviet 
Russia. "Of course, it is all barbarous and 
antiquated/' Lunacharsky said, "and I am 
fighting it tooth and nail. The sponsors of 
prisons for children are old criminal jurists, still 
imbued with Tsarist methods. I have organ- 
ized a commission of physicians, pedagogues, and 
psychologists to deal with this question. Of 
course, those children must not be punished/' I 
felt tremendously relieved. Here at last was a 
man who had gotten away from the cruel old 
methods of punishment. I told him of the 
splendid work done in capitalist America by 
Judge Lindsay and of some of the experimental 
schools for backward children. Lunacharsky 
was much interested. "Yes, that is just what 


we want here, the American system of educa- 
tion/ 5 he exclaimed. "You surely do not mean 
the American public school system ?" I asked. 
"You know of the insurgent movement in Ameri- 
ca against our public school method of educa- 
tion, the work done by Professor Dewey and 
others ?"Lunacharsky had heard little about it. 
Russia had been so long cut off from the western 
world and there was great lack of books on 
modern education. He was eager to learn of the 
new ideas and methods. I sensed in Lunacharsky 
a personality full of faith and devotion to the 
Revolution, one who was carrying on the great 
work of education in a physically and spiritually 
difficult environment. 

He suggested the calling of a conference of 
teachers if I would talk to them about the new 
tendencies in education in America, to which I 
readily consented. Schools and other institu- 
tions in his charge were to be visited later. I 
left Lunacharsky filled with new hope. I would 
join him in his work, I thought. What greater 
service could one render the Russian people ? 

During my visit to Moscow I saw Luna- 
charsky several times. He was always the same 
kindly gracious man, but I soon began to notice 
that he was being handicapped in his work by 


forces within his own party: most of his good 
intentions and decisions never saw the light. 
Evidently Lunacharsky was caught in the same 
machine that apparently held everything in its 
iron grip. What was that machine? Who 
directed its movements? 

Although the control of visitors at the Na- 
tional was very strict, no one being able to go in 
or out without a special propusk [permit], men 
and women of different political factions man- 
aged to call on me: Anarchists, Left Social 
Revolutionists, Cooperators, and people I had 
known in America and who had returned to 
Russia to play their part in the Revolution. 
They had come with deep faith and high hope, 
but I found almost all of them discouraged, some 
even embittered. Though widely differing in 
their political views, nearly all of my callers re- 
lated an identical story, the story of the high tide 
of the Revolution, of the wonderful spirit that 
led the people forward, of the possibilities of the 
masses, the role of the Bolsheviki as the spokes- 
men of the most extreme revolutionary slogans 
and their betrayal of the Revolution after they 
had secured power. All spoke of the Brest 
Litovsk peace as the beginning of the downward 
march. The Left Social Revolutionists espe- 


daily, men of culture and earnestness, who had 
suffered much under the Tsar and now saw their 
hopes and aspirations thwarted, were most em- 
phatic in their condemnation. They supported 
their statements by evidence of the havoc 
wrought by the methods of forcible requisition 
and the punitive expeditions to the villages, of 
the abyss created between town and country, the 
hatred engendered between peasant and worker. 
They told of the persecution of their comrades, 
the shooting of innocent men and women, the 
criminal inefficiency, waste, and destruction. \ 

How, then, could the Bolsheviki maintain' 
themselves in power? After all, they were only 
a small minority, about five hundred thousand 
members as an exaggerated estimate. The 
Russian masses, I was told, were exhausted by 
hunger and cowed by terrorism. Moreover, 
they had lost faith in all parties and ideas. 
Nevertheless, there were frequent peasant up- 
risings in various parts of Russia, but these were 
ruthlessly quelled. There were also constant 
strikes in Moscow, Petrograd, and other indus- 
trial centres, but the censorship was so rigid little 
ever became known to the masses at large. 

I sounded my visitors on intervention. "We 
want none of outside interference/* was the 


uniform sentiment. They held that it merely 
strengthened the hands of the Bolsheviki. They 
felt that they could not publicly even speak out 
against them so long as Russia was being at- 
tacked, much less fight their regime. "Have 
not their tactics and methods been imposed 
on the Bolsheviki by intervention and block- 
ade?" I argued. "Only partly so," was the 
reply. "Most of their methods spring from 
their lack of understanding of the character and 
the needs of the Russian people and the mad 
obsession of dictatorship, which is not even the 
dictatorship of the proletariat but the dictator- 
ship of a small group over the proletariat." 

When I broached the subject of the People's 
Soviets and the elections my visitors smiled 
" Elections ! There are no such things in Russia, 
unless you call threats and terrorism elections. 
It is by these alone that the Bolsheviki secure a 
majority. A few Mensheviki, Social Revolu- 
tionists, or Anarchists are permitted to slip into 
the Soviets, but they have not the shadow of a 
chance to be heard." 

The picture painted looked black and dismal. 
Still I clung to my faith. 



A~~ A conference of the Moscow Anarchists 
in March I first learned of the part some 
Anarchists had played in the Russian 
Revolution. In the July uprising of 1917 the 
Kronstadt sailors were led by the Anarchist 
Yarchuck; the Constituent Assembly was dis- 
persed by Zhelezniakov; the Anarchists had 
participated on every front and helped to drive 
back the Allied attacks. It was the consensus 
of opinion that the Anarchists were always 
among the first to face fire, as they were also the 
most active in the reconstructive work. One of 
the biggest factories near Moscow, which did not 
stop work during the entire period of the Revolu- 
tion, was managed by an Anarchist. Anarchists 
were doing important work in the Foreign Office 
and in all other departments. I learned that 
the Anarchists had virtually helped the Bolshe- 
viki into power. Five months later, in April, 
1918, machine guns were used to destroy the 

4 6 


Moscow Anarchist Club and to suppress their 
press. That was before Mirbach arrived in 
Moscow. The field had to be "cleared of dis- 
turbing elements/ 5 and the Anarchists were the 
first to suffer. Since then the persecution of the 
Anarchists has never ceased. 

The Moscow Anarchist Conference was critical 
not only toward the existing regime, but toward 
its own comrades as well. It spoke frankly of 
the negative sides of the movement, and of its 
lack of unity and cooperation during the revolu- 
tionary period. Later I was to learn more of 
the internal dissensions in the Anarchist move- 
ment. Before closing, the Conference decided 
to call on the Soviet Government to release the 
imprisoned Anarchists and to legalize Anarchist 
educational work. The Conference asked Alex- 
ander Berkman and myself to sign the resolution 
to that effect. It was a shock to me that Anar- 
chists should ask any government to legalize 
their efforts, but I still believed the Soviet Gov- 
ernment to be at least to some extent expressive 
of the Revolution. I signed the resolution, 
and as I was to see Lenin in a few days I prom- 
ised to take the matter up with him. 

The interview with Lenin was arranged by 
Balabanova. "You must see Hitch, talk to 


him about the things that are disturbing you and 
the work you would like to do/' she had said. But 
some time passed before the opportunity came. 
At last one day Balabanova called up to ask 
whether I could go at once. Lenin had sent his 
car and we were quickly driven over to the Krem- 
lin, passed without question by the guards, and at 
last ushered into the workroom of the all-powerful 
president of the People's Commissars. 

When we entered Lenin held a copy of the 
brochure Trial and Speeches* in his hands. I 
had given my only copy to Balabanova, who 
had evidently sent the booklet on ahead of us to 
Lenin. One of his first questions was, v " When 
could the Social Revolution be expected in 
America?^ I had been asked the question 
repeatedly before, but I was astounded to hear 
it from Lenin. It seemed incredible that a man 
of his information should know so little about 
conditions in America. 

My Russian at this time was halting, but 
Lenin declared that though he had lived in 
Europe for many years he had not learned to 
speak foreign languages : the conversation would 
therefore have to be carried on in Russian. At 

* Trial and Speeches of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman be- 
jorc the Federal Court of New York, June-July, 1317. Mother Earth 
Publishing Co., New York. 


once he launched into a eulogy of our speeches in 
court. " What a splendid opportunity for propa- 
ganda," he said; "it is worth going to prison, if 
the courts can so successfully be turned into a 
forum." I felt his steady cold gaze upon me, 
penetrating my very being, as if he were reflect- 
ing upon the use I might be put to. Presently 
he asked what I would want to do. I told him 
I would like to repay America what it had done 
for Russia. I spoke of the Society of the Friends 
of Russian Freedom, organized thirty years ago 
by George Kennan and later reorganized by 
Alice Stone Blackwell and other liberal Ameri- 
cans. I briefly sketched the splendid work they 
had done to arouse interest in the struggle for 
Russian freedom, and the great moral and 
financial aid the Society had given through all 
those years. To organize a Russian society for 
American freedom was my plan. Lenin ap- 
peared enthusiastic. "That is a great idea, 
and you shall have all the help you want. But, 
of course, it will be under the auspices of the 
Third International. Prepare your plan in 
writing and send it to me." 

I broached the subject of the Anarchists in 
Russia. I showed him a letter I had received 
from Martens, the Soviet representative ia 


America, shortly before my deportation. Mar- 
tens asserted that the Anarchists in Russia en- 
joyed full freedom of speech and press. Since 
my arrival I found scores of Anarchists in prison 
and their press suppressed. I explained that I 
could not think of working with the Soviet 
Government so long as my comrades were in 
prison for opinion's sake. I also told him of the 
resolutions of the Moscow Anarchist Conference. 
He listened patiently and promised to bring the 
matter to the attention of his party. "But as 
to free speech," he remarked, "that is, of course, 
a bourgeois notion. There can be no free speech 
in a revolutionary period. We have the peasan- 
try against us because we can give them nothing 
in return for their bread. We will have them on 
our side when we have something to exchange. 
Then you can have all the free speech you want 
but not now. Recently we needed peasants 
to cart some wood into the city. They demanded 
salt. We thought we had no salt, but then we 
discovered seventy poods in Moscow in one of 
our warehouses. At once the peasants were 
willing to cart the wood. Your comrades must 
wait until we can meet the needs of the peasants. 
Meanwhile, they should work with us. Look at 
William Shatov, for instance, who has helped 


save Petrograd from Yudenitch. He works 
with us and we appreciate his services. Shatov 
was among the first to receive the order of the 
Red Banner." 

Free speech, free press, the spiritual achieve- 
ments of centuries, what were they to this man ? 
A Puritan, he was sure his scheme alone could 
redeem Russia. Those who served his plans 
were right, the others could not be tolerated. 
/ A shrewd Asiatic, this Lenin) He knows how 
to play on the weak sides of men by flattery, 
rewards, medals. I left convinced that his 
approach to people was purely utilitarian, for 
the use he could get out of them for his scheme. 
And his scheme was it the Revolution ? 

I prepared the plan for the Society of the 
Russian Friends of American Freedom and 
elaborated the details of the work I had in mind, 
but refused to place myself under the protecting 
wing of the Third International. I explained to~ 
Lenin that the American people had little faith 
in politics, and would certainly consider it an im- 
position to be directed and guided by a political 
machine from Moscow. I could not consistently 
align myself with the Third International. 

Some time later I saw Tchicherin. I believe 
it was 4 A. M. when our interview took place. 


He also asked about the possibilities of a revolu- 
tion in America, and seemed to doubt my judg- 
ment when I informed him that there was no 
hope of it in the near future. We spoke of the 
I. W. W., which had evidently been misrep- 
resented to him. I assured Tchicherin that 
while I am not an I. W. W. I must state that they 
represented the only conscious and effective 
revolutionary proletarian organization in the 
United States, and were sure to play an impor- 
tant role in the future labour history of the 

Next to Balabanova, Tchicherin impressed 
me as the most simple and unassuming of the 
leading Communists in Moscow. But all were 
equally naive in their estimate of the world out- 
side of Russia. Was their judgment so faulty 
because they had been cut off from Europe and 
v America so long? Or was their great need of 
European help father to their wish? At any 
rate, they all clung to the idea of approach- 
ing revolutions in the western countries, forget- 
ful that revolutions are not made to order, 
and apparently unconscious that their own 
revolution had been twisted out of shape and 
semblance and was gradually being done to 


The editor of the London Daily Herald, ac- 
companied by one of his reporters, had preceded 
me to Moscow. They wanted to visit Kropot- 
kin, and they had been given a special car. 
Together with Alexander Berkman and A. 
Shapiro, I was able to join Mr. Lansbury. 

The Kropotkin cottage stood back in the gar- 
den away from the street. Only a faint ray 
from a kerosene lamp lit up the path to the 
house. Kropotkin received us with his charac- 
teristic graciousness, evidently glad at our visit. 
But I was shocked at his altered appearance. 
The last time I had seen him was in 1907, in 
Paris, which I visited after the Anarchist Con- 
gress in Amsterdam. Kropotkin, barred from 
France for many years, had just been given 
the right to return. He was then sixty-five 
years of age, but still so full of life and energy 
that he seemed much younger. Now he looked 
old and worn. 

I was eager to get some light from Kropotkin 
on the problems that were troubling me, particu- 
larly on the relation of the Bolsheviki to the 
Revolution. What was his opinion ? Why had 
he been silent so long ? 

I took no notes and therefore I can give only 
the gist of what Kropotkin said. He stated that 


the Revolution had carried the people to great 
spiritual heights and had paved the way for 
profound social changes. If the people had been 
permitted to apply their released energies, Rus- 
sia would not be in her present condition of ruin. 
The Bolsheviki, who had been carried to the 
top by the revolutionary wave, first caught the 
popular ear by extreme revolutionary slogans, 
thereby gaining the confidence of the masses and 
the support of militant revolutionists. 

He continued to narrate that early in the 
October period the Bolsheviki began to sub- 
ordinate the interests of the Revolution to the 
establishment of their dictatorship, which coerced 
and paralysed every social activity. He stated 
that the cooperatives were the main medium 
that could have bridged the interests of the 
peasants and the workers. The cooperatives 
were among the first to be crushed. He spoke 
with much feeling of the oppression, the persecu- 
tion, the hounding of every shade of opinion, and 
cited numerous instances of the misery and dis- 
tress of the people. He emphasized that the 
Bolsheviki had discredited Socialism and Com- 
munism in the eyes of the Russian people. 

"Why haven't you raised your voice against 
these evils, against this machine that is sapping 


the life blood of the Revolution ?" I asked. He 
gave two reasons. As long as Russia was being 
attacked by the combined Imperialists, and 
Russian women and children were dying from 
the eff ects of the blockade, he could not join the 
shrieking chorus of the ex-revolutionists in the 
cry of "Crucify!" He preferred silence. Sec- 
ondly, there was no medium of expression in 
Russia itself. To protest to the Government 
was useless. Its concern was to maintain itself 
in power. It could not stop at such " trifles " 
as human rights or human lives. Then he added : 
"We have always pointed out the effects of 
Marxism in action. Why be surprised now?" 

I asked Kropotkin whether he was noting 
down his impressions and observations. Surely 
he must see the importance of such a record 
to his comrades and to the workers; in fact, to 
the whole worlds "No," he said; "it is impossi- 
ble to write when one is in the midst of great 
human suffering, when every hour brings new 
tragedies. Then there may be a raid at any 
moment. The Tcheka comes swooping down 
in the night, ransacks every corner, turns 
everything inside out, and marches off with 
every scrap of paper. Under such constant 
stress it is impossible to keep records. But be- 


sides these considerations there is my book on 
Ethics. I can only work a few hours a day, and 
I must concentrate on that to the exclusion of 
everything else." 

After a tender embrace which Peter never 
failed to give those he loved, we returned to our 
car. My heart was heavy, my spirit confused 
and troubled by what I had heard. I was also 
distressed by the poor state of health of our 
comrade : I feared he could not survive till spring. 
The thought that Peter Kropotkin might go to 
his grave and that the world might never know 
what he thought of the Russian Revolution was 



EVENTS in Moscow, quickly following 
each other, were full of interest. I 
wanted to remain in that vital city, but as 
I had left all my effects in Petrograd I decided 
to return there and then come back to Moscow 
to join Lunacharsky in his work. A few days 
before my departure a young woman, an Anarch- 
ist, came to visit me. She was from the Petro- 
grad Museum of the Revolution and she called 
to inquire whether I would take charge of the 
Museum branch work in Moscow. She ex- 
plained that the original idea of the Museum 
was due to the famous old revolutionist Vera 
Nikolaievna Figner, and that it had recently 
been organized by non-partisan elements. The 
majority of the men and women who worked 
in the Museum were not Communists, she said; 
but they were devoted to the Revolution and 
anxious to create something which could in the 
future serve as a source of information and in- 



spiration to earnest students of the great Rus- 
sian Revolution. When my caller was informed 
that I was about to return to Petrograd, she 
invited me to visit the Museum and to become 
acquainted with its work. 

Upon my arrival in Petrograd I found un- 
expected work awaiting me. Zorin informed me 
that he had been notified by Tchicherin that a 
thousand Russians had been deported from 
America and were on their way to Russia. They 
were to be met at the border and quarters were 
to be immediately prepared for them in Petro- 
grad. Zorin asked me to join the Commission 
about to be organized for that purpose. 

The plan of such a commission for American 
deportees had been broached to Zorin soon after 
our arrival in Russia. At that time Zorin 
directed us to talk the matter over with Tchich- 
erin, which we did. But three months passed 
without anything having been done about it. 
Meanwhile, our comrades of the Buford were 
still walking from department to department, 
trying to be placed where they might do some 
good. They were a sorry lot, those men who 
had come to Russia with such high hopes, eager 
to render service to the revolutionary people. 
Most of them were skilled workers, mechanics 


men Russia needed badly; but the cumbersome 
Bolshevik machine and general inefficiency made 
it a very complex matter to put them to work. 
Some had tried independently to secure jobs, 
but they could accomplish very little. More- 
over, those who found employment were soon 
made to feel that the Russian workers resented 
the eagerness and intensity of their brothers 
from America. "Wait till you have starved as 
long as we," they would say, "wait till you have 
tasted the blessings of Commissarship, and we 
will see if you are still so eager/' In every way 
the deportees were discouraged and their en- 
thusiasm dampened. 

To avoid this unnecessary waste of energy 
and suffering the Commission was at last or- 
ganized in Petrograd. It consisted of Ravitch, 
the then Minister of Internal Affairs for the 
Northern District; her secretary, Kaplun; two 
members of the Bureau of War Prisoners; Alex- 
ander Berkman, and myself. The new deportees 
were due in two weeks, and much work was to be 
done to prepare for their reception. It was un- 
fortunate that no active participation could be 
expected from Ravitch because her time was too 
much occupied. Besides holding the post of 
Minister of the Interior she was Chief of the 


Petrograd Militia, and she also represented the 
Moscow Foreign Office in Petrograd. Her regu- 
lar working hours were from 8 A. M. to 2 A. M. 
Kaplun, a very able administrator, had charge 
of the entire internal work of the Department 
and could therefore give us very little of his time. 
There remained only four persons to accomplish 
within a short time the big task of preparing liv- 
ing quarters for a thousand deportees in starved 
and ruined Russia. Moreover, Alexander Berk- 
man, heading the Reception Committee, had 
to leave for the Latvian border to meet the 

It was an almost impossible task for one per- 
son, but I was very anxious to save the second 
group of deportees the bitter experiences and the 
disappointments of my fellow companions of the 
Buford. I could undertake the work only by 
making the condition that I be given the right of 
entry to the various government departments, 
for I had learned by that time how paralysing 
was the effect of the bureaucratic red tape which 
delayed and often frustrated the most earnest 
and energetic efforts. Kaplun consented. "Call 
on me at any time for anything you may re- 
quire/' he said; "I will give orders that you be 
admitted everywhere and supplied with every- 


thing you need. If that should not help, call on 
the Tcheka," he added. I had never called upon 
the police before, I informed him; why should I 
do so in revolutionary Russia? "In bourgeois 
countries that is a different matter," explained 
Kaplun; "with us the Tcheka defends the Revo- 
lution and fights sabotage." I started on my 
work determined to do without the Tcheka. 
Surely there must be other methods, I thought. 

Then began a chase over Petrograd. Mate- 
rials were very scarce and it was most difficult to 
procure them owing to the unbelievably central- 
ized Bolshevik methods. Thus to get a pound 
of nails one had to file applications in about ten 
or fifteen bureaus; to secure some bed linen or 
ordinary dishes one wasted days. Everywhere 
in the offices crowds of Government employees 
stood about smoking cigarettes, awaiting the 
hour when the tedious task of the day would be 
over. My co-workers of the War Prisoners' 
Bureau fumed at the irritating and unnecessary 
delays, but to no purpose. They threatened 
with the Tcheka, with the concentration camp, 
even with raztrel (shooting). The latter was the 
most favourite argument. Whenever any dif- 
ficulty arose one immediately heard raztreliat 
to be shot. But the expression, so terrible 


in its significance, was gradually losing its effect 
upon the people: man gets used to everything. 

I decided to try other methods. I would talk 
to the employees in the departments about the 
vital interest the conscious American workers 
felt in the great Russian Revolution, and of their 
faith and hope in the Russian proletariat. The 
people would become interested immediately, 
but the questions they would ask were as strange 
as they were pitiful: "Have the people enough 
to eat in America ? How soon will the Revolu- 
tion be there? Why did you come to starving 
Russia?" They were eager for information and 
news, these mentally and physically starved 
people, cut off by the barbarous blockade from 
all touch^ with the western world. Things 
American were something wonderful to them. A 
piece of chocolate or a cracker were unheard-of 
dainties they proved the key to everybody's 

Within two weeks I succeeded in procuring 
most of the things needed for the expected de- 
portees, including furniture, linen, and dishes. 
A miracle, everybody said. 

However, the renovation of the houses that 
were to serve as living quarters for the exiles was 
not accomplished so easily. I inspected what, 


as I was told, had once been first-class hotels. I 
found them located in the former prostitute dis- 
trict; cheap dives they were, until the Bolsheviki 
closed all brothels. They were germ-eaten, ill- 
smelling, and filthy. It was no small problem to 
turn those dark holes into a fit habitation within 
two weeks. A coat of paint was a luxury not to 
be thought of. There was nothing else to do but 
to strip the rooms of furniture and draperies, and 
have them thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. 

One morning a group of forlorn-looking crea- 
tures, in charge of two militiamen, were brought 
to my temporary office. They came to work, I 
was informed. The group consisted of a one- 
armed old man, a consumptive woman, and 
eight boys and girls, mere children, pale, starved, 
and in rags. " Where do these unfortunates come 
from?" I inquired. "They are speculators," 
one of the militiamen replied; "we rounded them 
up on the market." The prisoners began to 
weep. They were no speculators, they protested ; 
they were starving, they had received no bread 
in two days. They were compelled to go out 
to the market to sell matches or thread to secure 
a little bread. In the midst of this scene the 
old man fainted from exhaustion, demonstrating 
better than words that he had speculated only in 


hunger. I had seen such "speculators*' before, 
driven in groups through the streets of Moscow 
and Petrograd by convoys with loaded guns 
pointed at the backs of the prisoners. 

I could not think of having the work done by 
these starved creatures. But the militiamen in- 
sisted that they would not let them go; they had 
orders to make them work. I called up Kaplun 
and informed him that I considered it out of the 
question to have quarters for American deportees 
prepared by Russian convicts whose only crime 
was hunger. Thereupon Kaplun ordered the 
group set free and consented that I give them of 
the bread sent for the workers' rations. But a 
valuable day was lost. 

The next morning a group of boys and girls 
came singing along the Nevski Prospekt. They 
were kursanti from the Tauride Palace who were 
sent to my office to work. On my first visit to 
the palace I had been shown the quarters of the 
kursanti, the students of the Bolshevik academy. 
They were mostly village boys and girls housed, 
fed, clothed, and educated by the Government, 
later to be placed in responsible positions in the 
Soviet regime. At the time I was impressed by 
the institutions, but by April I had looked some- 
what beneath the surface. I recalled what a 


young woman, a Communist, had told me in 
Moscow about these students. "They are the 
special caste now being reared in Russia/' she 
had said. "Like the church which maintains 
and educates its religious priesthood, our Gov- 
ernment trains a military and civic priesthood. 
They are a favoured lot." I had more than one 
occasion to convince myself of the truth of it. 
The kursanti were being given every advantage 
and many special privileges. They knew their 
importance and they behaved accordingly. 

Their first demand when they came to me was 
for the extra rations of bread they had been 
promised. This demand satisfied, they stood 
about and seemed to have no idea of work. It 
was evident that whatever else the kursanti 
might be taught, it was not to labour. But, 
then, few people in Russia know how to work. 
The situation looked hopeless. Only ten days 
remained till the arrival of the deportees, and the 
"hotels" assigned for their use were still in as un- 
inhabitable a condition as before. It was no use 
to threaten with the Tcheka, as my co-workers 
did. I appealed to the boys and girls in the 
spirit of the American deportees who were about 
to arrive in Russia full of enthusiasm for the 
Revolution and eager to join in the great work of 


reconstruction. The kursanti were the pam- 
pered charges of the Government, but they were 
not long from the villages, and they had had no 
time to become corrupt. My appeal was ef- 
fective. They took up the work with a will, and 
at the end of ten days the three famous hotels 
were ready as far as willingness to work and hot 
water without soap could make them. We were 
very proud of our achievement and we eagerly 
awaited the arrival of the deportees. 

At last they came, but to our great surprise 
they proved to be no deportees at all. They 
were Russian war prisoners from Germany. The 
misunderstanding was due to the blunder of 
some official in Tchicherin's office who misread 
the radio information about the party due at the 
border. The prepared hotels were locked and 
sealed; they were not to be used for the returned 
war prisoners because "they were prepared for 
American deportees who still might come." All 
the efforts and labour had been in vain. 



SINCE my return from Moscow I noticed 
a change in Zorin's attitude: he was re- 
served, distant, and not as friendly as 
when we first met. I ascribed it to the fact that 
he was overworked and fatigued, and not wishing 
to waste his valuable time I ceased visiting the 
Zorins as frequently as before. One day, how- 
ever, he called up to ask if Alexander Berkman 
and myself would join him in certain work he was 
planning, and which was to be done in hurry-up 
American style, as he put it. On calling to see 
him we found him rather excited an unusual 
thing for Zorin who was generally quiet and re- 
served. He was full of a new scheme to build 
"rest homes" for workers. He explained that 
on Kameniy Ostrov were the magnificent man- 
sions of the Stolypins, the Polovtsovs, and others 
of the aristocracy and bourgeoisie, and that he 
was planning to turn them into recreation cen- 
tres for workers. Would we join in the work? 



Of course, we consented eagerly, and the next 
morning we went over to inspect the island. It 
was indeed an ideal spot, dotted with magnificent 
mansions, some of them veritable museums, 
containing rare gems of painting, tapestry, and 
furniture. The man in charge of the buildings 
called our attention to the art treasures, pro- 
testing that they would be injured or entirely 
destroyed if put to the planned use. But Zorin 
was set on his scheme. "Recreation homes for 
workers are more important than art/' he said. 
We returned to the Astoria determined to 
devote ourselves to the work and to go at it 
intensively, as the houses were to be ready for 
the First of May. We prepared detailed plans 
for dining rooms, sleeping chambers, reading 
rooms, theatre and lecture halls, and recreation 
places for the workers. As the first and most 
necessary step we proposed the organization of a 
dining room to feed the workers who were to be 
employed in preparing the place for their com- 
rades. I had learned from my previous expe- 
rience with the hotels that much valuable time 
was lost because of the failure to provide for 
those actually employed on such work. Zorin 
consented and promised that we were to take 
charge within a few days. But a week passed 


and nothing further was heard about what was 
to be a rush job. Some time later Zorin called 
up to ask us to accompany him to the island. 
On our arrival there we found half-a-dozen Com- 
missars already in charge, with scores of people 
idling about. Zorin reassured us that matters 
would arrange themselves and that we should 
have an opportunity to organize the work as 
planned. However, we soon realized that the 
newly fledged officialdom was as hard to cope 
with as the old bureaucracy. 

Every Commissar had his favourites whom he 
managed to list as employed on the job, thereby 
entitling them to bread rations and a meal. Thus 
almost before any actual workers appeared on 
the scene, eighty alleged "technicians" were al- 
ready in possession of dinner tickets and bread 
cards. The men actually mobilized for the 
work received hardly anything. The result was 
general sabotage. Most of the men sent over to 
prepare the rest homes for the workers came from 
concentration camps: they were convicts and 
military deserters. I had often watched them 
at work, and in justice to them it must be said 
that they did not overexert themselves. "Why 
should we/' they would say; "we are fed on 
Sovietski soup; dirty dishwater it is, and we 


receive only what is left over from the idlers who 
order us about. And who will rest in these 
homes ? Not we or our brothers in the factories. 
Only those who belong to the party or who have 
a pull will enjoy this place. Besides, the spring 
is near; we are needed at home on the farm. 
Why are we kept here?" Indeed, they did not 
exert themselves, those stalwart sons of Rus- 
sia's soil. There was no incentive: they had no 
point of contact with the life about them, and 
there was no one who could translate to them the 
meaning of work in revolutionary Russia. They 
were dazed by war, revolution, and hunger 
nothing could rouse them out of their stupor. 

Many of the buildings on Kameniy Ostrov 
had been taken up for boarding schools and 
homes for defectives; some were occupied by old 
professors, teachers, and other intellectuals. Since 
the Revolution these people lived there un- 
molested, but now orders came to vacate, to 
make room for the rest homes. As almost no 
provision had been made to supply the dis- 
possessed ones with other quarters, they were 
practically forced into the streets. Those friendly 
with Zinoviev, Gorki, or other influential Com- 
munists took their troubles to them, but per- 
sons lacking "pull" found no redress. The 


scenes of misery which I was compelled to 
witness daily exhausted my energies. It was 
all unnecessarily cruel, impractical, without any 
bearing on the Revolution. Added to this was 
the chaos and confusion which prevailed. The 
bureaucratic officials seemed to take particular 
delight in countermanding each other's orders. 
Houses already in the process of renovation, 
and on which much work and material were 
spent, would suddenly be left unfinished and 
some other work begun. Mansions filled with 
art treasures were turned into night lodgings, 
and dirty iron cots put among antique furniture 
and oil paintings an incongruous, stupid waste 
of time and energy. Zorin would frequently 
hold consultations by the hour with the staff of 
artists and engineers making plans for theatres, 
lecture halls, and amusement places, while the 
Commissars sabotaged the work. I stood the 
painful and ridiculous situation for two weeks, 
then gave up the matter in despair. 

Early in May the workers' rest homes on 
Kameniy Ostrov were opened with much pomp, 
music, and speeches. Glowing accounts were 
sent broadcast of the marvellous things done for 
the workers in Russia. In reality, it was Coney 
Island transferred to the environs of Petrograd, 


a gaudy showplace for credulous visitors. From 
that time on Zorin's demeanour to me changed. 
He became cold, even antagonistic. No doubt 
he began to sense the struggle which was going 
on within me, and the break which was bound to 
come. I did, however, see much of Lisa Zorin, 
who had just become a mother. I nursed her 
and her baby, glad of the opportunity thus to 
express my gratitude for the warm friendship the 
Zorins had shown me during my first months in 
Russia. I appreciated their sterling honesty 
and devotion. Both were so favourably placed 
politically that they could be supplied with 
everything they wanted, yet Lisa Zorin lacked 
the simplest garments for her baby. "Thou- 
sands of Russian working women have no more, 
and why should I?" Lisa would say. When 
she was so weak that she could not nurse her 
baby, Zorin could not be induced to ask for 
special rations. I had to conspire against them 
by buying eggs and butter on the market to save 
the lives of mother and child. But their fine 
quality of character made my inner struggle the 
more difficult. Reason urged me to look the 
social facts in the face. My personal attachment 
to the Communists I had learned to know and 
esteem refused to accept the facts. Never 


mind the evils I would say to myself as long 
as there are such as the Zorins and the Balaba- 
novas, there must be something vital in the 
ideas they represent. I held on tenaciously to 
the phantom I had myself created. 



IN 1890 the First of May was for the first time 
celebrated in America as Labour's interna- 
tional holiday. May Day became to me a 
great, inspiring event. To witness the celebra- 
tion of the First of May in a free country it was 
something to dream of, to long for, but perhaps 
never to be realized. And now, in 1920, the 
dream of many years was about to become real 
in revolutionary Russia. I could hardly await 
the morning of May First. Jf was a glorious 
day, with the warm sun melting away the last 
crust of the hard winter. Early in the morning 
strains of music greeted me: groups of workers 
and soldiers were marching through the streets, 
singing revolutionary songs. The city was gaily 
decorated : the Uritski Square, facing the Winter 
Palace, was a mass of red, the streets near by a 
veritable riot of colour. Great crowds were about, 
all wending their way to the Field of Mars where 
the heroes of the Revolution were buried. 



Though I had an admission card to the re- 
viewing stand I preferred to remain among the 
people, to feel myself a part of the great hosts 
that had brought about the world event. This 
was their day the day of their making. Yet 
they seemed peculiarly quiet, oppressively silent. 
There was no joy in their singing, no mirth in 
their laughter. Mechanically they marched, au- 
tomatically they responded to the claqueurs on 
the reviewing stand shouting "Hurrah" as the 
columns passed. 

In the evening a pageant was to take place. 
Long before the appointed hour the Uritski 
Square down to the palace and to the banks of 
the Neva was crowded with people gathered to 
witness the open-air performance symbolizing 
the triumph of the people. The play consisted 
of three parts, the first portraying the conditions 
which led up to the war and the role of the Ger- 
man Socialists in it; the second reproduced the 
February Revolution, with Kerensky in power; 
the last the October Revolution. It was a 
play beautifully set and powerfully acted, a play 
vivid, real, fascinating. It was given on the 
steps of the former Stock Exchange, facing the 
Square. On the highest step sat kings and 
queens with their courtiers, attended by soldiery 


in gay uniforms. The scene represents a gala 
court affair: the announcement is made that a 
monument is to be built in honour of world 
capitalism. There is much rejoicing, and a wild 
orgy of music and dance ensues. Then from the 
depths there emerge the enslaved and toiling 
masses, their chains ringing mournfully to the 
music above. They are responding to the com- 
mand to build the monument for their masters: 
some are seen carrying hammers and anvils; 
others stagger under the weight of huge blocks 
of stone and loads of brick. The workers are 
toiling in their world of misery and darkness, 
lashed to greater effort by the whip of the slave 
drivers, while above there is light and joy, and 
the masters are feasting. The completion of 
the monument is signalled by l^rge yellow disks 
hoisted on high amidst the rejoicing of the 
world on top. 

At this moment a little red flag is seen waving 
below, and a small figure is haranguing the peo- 
ple. Angry fists are raised and then flag and 
figure disappear, only to reappear again in dif- 
ferent parts of the underworld. Again the red 
flag waves, now here, now there. The people 
slowly gain confidence and presently become 
threatening. Indignation and anger grow the 


kings and queens become alarmed. They fly to 
the safety of the citadels, and the army prepares 
to defend the stronghold of capitalism. 

It is August, 1914. The rulers are again feast- 
ing, and the workers are slaving. The members 
of the Second International attend the confab of 
the mighty. They remain deaf to the plea of the 
workers to save them from the horrors of war. 
Then the strains of "God Save the King" an- 
nounce the arrival of the English army. It is 
followed by Russian soldiers with machine guns 
and artillery, and a procession of nurses and crip- 
ples, the tribute to the Moloch of war. 

The next act pictures the February Revolu- 
tion. Red flags appear everywhere, armed 
motor cars dash about. The people storm the 
Winter Palace and haul down the emblem of 
Tsardom. The Kerensky Government assumes 
control, and the people are driven back to war. 
Then comes the marvellous scene of the October 
Revolution, with soldiers and sailors galloping 
along the open space before the white marble 
building. They dash up the steps into the 
palace, there is a brief struggle, and the victors 
are hailed by the masses in wild jubilation. The 
"Internationale" floats upon the air; it mounts 
higher and higher into exultant peals of joy. 


Russia is free the workers, sailors, and soldiers 
usher in the new era, the beginning of the world 
commune ! 

Tremendously stirring was the picture. But 
the vast mass remained silent. Only a faint 
applause was heard from the great throng. I 
was dumbfounded. How explain this astonish- 
ing lack of response? When I spoke to Lisa 
Zorin about it she said that the people had 
actually lived through the October Revolution, 
and that the performance necessarily fell flat by 
comparison with the reality of 1917. But my 
little Communist neighbour gave a different ver- 
sion. "The people had suffered so many dis- 
appointments since October, 1917," she said, 
"that the Revolution has lost all meaning to 
them. The play had the effect of making their 
disappointment more poignant." 



r I "^HE Ninth Congress of the All-Russian 
I Communist Party, held in March, 1920, 

** was characterized by a number of meas- 
ures which meant a complete turn to the right. 
Foremost among them was the militarization of 
labour ancf the establishment of one-man man- 
agement of industry, as against the collegiate 
shop system. Obligatory labour had long been 
a law upon the statutes of the Socialist Republic, 
but it was carried out, as Trotsky said, "only 
in a small private way." Now the law was to 
be made effective in earnest. Russia was to 
have a militarized industrial army to fight 
economic disorganization, even as the Red Army 
had conquered on the various fronts. Such an 
army could be whipped into line only by rigid 
discipline, it was claimed. The factory colle- 
giate system had to make place for military in- 
dustrial management. 

The measure was bitterly fought at the Con- 



gress by the Communist minority, but party 
discipline prevailed. However, the excitement 
did not abate: discussion of the subject con- 
tinued long after the congress adjourned. 
Many of the younger Communists agreed that 
the measure indicated a step to the right, but 
they defended the decision of their party. "The 
collegiate system has proven a failure," they 
said. "The workers will not work voluntarily, 
and our industry must be revived if we are to 
survive another year/ 3 

Jack Reed also held this view. He had just 
returned after a futile attempt to reach America 
through Latvia, and for days we argued about 
the new policy. Jack insisted it was unavoid- 
able so long as Russia was being attacked and 
blockaded. "We have been compelled to mo- 
bilize an army to fight our external enemies 
why not an army to fight our worst internal 
enemy, hunger? We can do it only by putting 
our industry on its feet/' I pointed out the 
danger of the military method and questioned 
whether the workers could be expected to be- 
come efficient or to work intensively under 
compulsion. Still, Jack thought mobilization 
of labour unavoidable. "It must be tried, any- 
how/ 5 he said. 


Petrograd at the time was filled with rumours 
of strikes. The story made the rounds that 
Zinoviev and his staff, while visiting the factories 
to explain the new policies, were driven by the 
workers from the premises. To learn about the 
situation at first hand I decided to visit the 
factories. Already during my first months in 
Russia I had asked Zorin for permission to see 
them. Lisa Zorin had requested me to address 
some labour meetings, but I declined because I 
felt that it would be presumptuous on my part to 
undertake to teach those who had made the 
revolution. Besides, I was not quite at home 
with the Russian language then. But when I 
asked Zorin to let me visit some factories, he was 
evasive. After I had become acquainted with 
Ravitch I approached her on the subject, and she 
willingly consented. 

The first works to be visited were the Putilov, 
the largest and most important engine and car 
manufacturing establishment. Forty thousand 
workers had been employed there before the war. 
Now I was informed that only 7,000 were at work. 
I had heard much of the Putilovtsi: they had 
played a heroic part in the revolutionary days 
and in the defence of Petrograd against Yuden- 


At the Putilov office we were cordially re- 
ceived, shown about the various departments, 
and then turned over to a guide. There were 
four of us in the party, of whom only two could 
speak Russian. I lagged behind to question a 
group working at a bench. At first I was met 
with the usual suspicion, which I overcame by 
telling the men that I was bringing the greetings 
of their brothers in America. "And the revolu- 
tion there?" I was immediately asked. It 
seemed to have become a national obsession, 
this idea of a near revolution in Europe and 
America. Everybody in Russia clung to that 
hope. It was hard to rob those misinformed 
people of their naive faith. "The American 
revolution is not yet," I told them, "but the 
Russian Revolution has found an echo among 
the proletariat in America." I inquired about 
their work, their lives, and their attitude toward 
the new decrees. "As if we had not been driven 
enough before," complained one of the men. 
"Now we are to work under the military 
nagaika [whip]. Of course, we will have to 
be in the shop or they will punish us as industrial 
deserters. But how can they get more work out 
of us? We are suffering hunger and cold. We 
have no strength to give more." I suggested 


that the Government was probably compelled 
to introduce such methods, and that if Russian 
industry were not revived the condition of the 
workers would grow even worse. Besides, the 
Putilov men were receiving the preferred payok, 
"We understand the great misfortune that has 
befallen Russia/' one of the workers replied, 
"but we cannot squeeze more out of ourselves. 
Even the two pounds of bread we are getting is 
not enough. Look at the bread," he said, hold- 
ing up a black crust; "can we live on that? 
And our children ? If not for our people in the 
country or some trading on the market we would 
die altogether. Now comes the new measure 
which is tearing us away from our people, send- 
ing us to the other end of Russia while our 
brothers from there are going to be dragged here, 
away from their soil. It's a crazy measure and 
it won't work." 

" But what can the Government do in the face 
of the food shortage?" I asked. "Food short- 
age!" the man exclaimed; "look at the markets. 
Did you see any shortage of food there ? Specu- 
lation and the new bourgeoisie, that's what's the 
matter. The one-man management is our new 
slave driver. First the bourgeoisie sabotaged 
us, and now they are again in control. But just 


let them try to boss us ! They'll find out. Just 
let them try!" 

The men were bitter and resentful. Presently 
the guide returned to see what had become of 
me. He took great pains to explain that indus- 
trial conditions in the mill had improved con- 
siderably since the militarization of labour went 
into effect. The men were more content and 
many more cars had been renovated and engines 
repaired than within an equal period under the 
previous management. There were 7,000 pro- 
ductively employed in the works, he assured me* 
I learned, however, that the real figure was less 
than 5,000 and that of these only about 2,000 
were actual workers. The others were Govern- 
ment officials and clerks. 

After the Putilov works we visited the 
Treugolnik, the great rubber factory of Russia. 
The place was clean and the machinery in good 
order a well-equipped modern plant. When we 
reached the main workroom we were met by the 
superintendent, who had been in charge for twenty- 
five years. He would show us around himself, he 
said. He seemed to take great pride in the fac- 
tory, as if it were his own. It rather surprised 
me that they had managed to keep everything 
in such fine shape. The guide explained that it 


was because nearly the whole of the old staff had 
been left in charge. They felt that whatever 
might happen they must not let the place go to 
ruin. It was certainly very commendable, I 
thought, but soon I had occasion to change my 
mind. At one of the tables, cutting rubber, was 
an old worker with kindly eyes looking out of a 
ad, spiritual face. He reminded me of the pilgrim 
Lucca in Gorki's "Night Lodgings." Our guide 
kept a sharp vigil, but I managed to slip away 
while the superintendent was explaining some 
machinery to the other members of our group. 

"Well, batyushka, how is it with you?" I 
greeted the old worker. "Bad, matushka" he 
replied; "times are very hard for us old people." 
I told him how impressed I was to find everything 
in such good condition in the shop. "That is 
so," commented the old worker, "but it is be- 
cause the superintendent and his staff are hoping 
from day to day that there may be a change 
again, and that the Treugolnik will go back to 
its former owners. I know them. I have 
worked here long before the German master of 
this plant put in the new machinery." 

Passing through the various rooms of the fac- 
tory I saw the women and girls look up in 
evident dread. It seemed strange in a country 


where the proletarians were the masters. Ap- 
parently the machines were not the only things 
that had been carefully watched over the old 
discipline, too, had been preserved: the em- 
ployees thought us Bolshevik inspectors. 

The great flour mill of Petrograd, visited next, 
looked as if it were in a state of siege, with 
armed soldiers everywhere, even inside the work- 
rooms. The explanation given was that large 
quantities of precious flour had been vanishing. 
The soldiers watched the millmen as if they were 
galley slaves, and the workers naturally resented 
such humiliating treatment. They hardly dared 
to speak. One young chap, a fine-looking fellow, 
complained to me of the conditions. "We are 
here virtual prisoners," he said; "we cannot 
make a step without permission. We are kept 
hard at work eight hours with only ten minutes 
for our kipyatok [boiled water] and we are 
searched on leaving the mill." "Is not the 
theft of flour the cause of the strict surveillance?" 
I asked. "Not at all," replied the boy; "the 
Commissars of the mill and the soldiers know 
quite well where the flour goes to." I suggested 
that the workers might protest against such a 
state of affairs. "Protest, to whom ?" the boy 
exclaimed; "we'd be called speculators and 


counter-revolutionists and we'd be arrested." 
"Has the Revolution given you nothing ?" I 
asked. "Ah, the Revolution! But that is no 
more. Finished/' he said bitterly. 

The following morning we visited the Laferm 
tobacco factory. The place was in full opera- 
tion. We were conducted through the plant 
and the whole process was explained to us, be- 
ginning with the sorting of the raw material and 
ending with the finished cigarettes packed for 
sale or shipment. The air in the workrooms 
was stifling, nauseating. "The women are used 
to this atmosphere/' said the guide; "they don't 
mind." There were some pregnant women at 
work and girls no older than fourteen. They 
looked haggard, their chests sunken, black rings 
under their eyes. Some of them coughed and 
the hectic flush of consumption showed on their 
faces. "Is there a recreation room, a place 
where they can eat or drink their tea and inhale 
a bit of fresh air?" There was no such thing, I 
was informed. The women remained at work 
eight consecutive hours; they had their tea and 
black bread at their benches. The system was 
that of piece work, the employees receiving 
twenty-five cigarettes daily above their pay 
with permission to sell or exchange them. 


I spoke to some of the women. They did not 
complain except about being compelled to live 
far away from the factory. In most cases it 
required more than two hours to go to and from 
work. They had asked to be quartered near the 
Laferm and they received a promise to that 
effect, but nothing more was heard of it. 

Life certainly has a way of playing peculiar 
pranks. In America I should have scorned the 
idea of social welfare work: I should have con- 
sidered it a cheap palliative. But in Socialist 
Russia the sight of pregnant women working in 
suffocating tobacco air and saturating them- 
selves and their unborn with the poison im- 
pressed me as a fundamental evil. I spoke to 
Lisa Zorin to see whether something could not 
be done to ameliorate the evil. Lisa claimed that 
"piece work" was the only way to induce the 
girls to work. As to rest rooms, the women 
themselves had already made a fight for them, 
but so far nothing could be done because no 
space could be spared in the factory. "But if 
even such small improvements had not resulted 
from the Revolution/' I argued, "what purpose 
has it served ?" "The workers have achieved 
control/' Lisa replied; "they are now in powet, 
and they have more important things to attend 


to than rest rooms they have the Revolution 
to defend." Lisa Zorin had remained very much 
the proletarian, but she reasoned like a nun 
dedicated to the service of the Church. 

The thought oppressed me that what she 

called the "defence of the Revolution*' was 

.really only the defence of her party in power. 

At any rate, nothing came of my attempt at 

social welfare work. 



I WAS glad to learn that Angelica Balabanova 
arrived in Petrograd to prepare quarters for 
the British Labour Mission. During my 
stay in Moscow I had come to know and ap- 
preciate the fine spirit of Angelica. She was 
very devoted to me and when I fell ill she gave 
much time to my care, procured medicine which 
could be obtained only in the Kremlin drug 
store, and got special sick rations for me. Her 
friendship was generous and touching, and she 
endeared herself very much to me. 

The Narishkin Palace was to be prepared for 
the Mission, and Angelica invited me to ac- 
company her there. I noticed that she looked 
more worn and distressed than when I had seen 
her in Moscow. Our conversation made it clear 
to me that she suffered keenly from the reality 
which was so unlike her ideal. But she insisted 
that what seemed failure to me was conditioned 
in life itself, itself the greatest failure. 



Narishkin Palace is situated on the southern 
bank of the Neva, almost opposite the Peter-and- 
Paul Fortress. The place was prepared for the 
expected guests and a number of servants and 
cooks installed to minister to their needs. Soon 
the Mission arrived most of them typical work- 
ingmen delegates and with them a staff of 
newspaper men and Mrs. Snowden. The most 
outstanding figure among them was Bertrand 
Russell, who quickly demonstrated his inde- 
pendence and determination to be free to in- 
vestigate and learn at first hand. 

In honour of the Mission the Bolsheviki 
organized a great demonstration on the Uritski 
Square. Thousands of people, among them 
women and children, came to show their grati- 
tude to the English labour representatives for 
venturing into revolutionary Russia. The cere- 
mony consisted of the singing of the "Interna- 
tionale," followed by music and speeches, the 
latter translated by Balabanova in masterly 
fashion. Then came the military exercises. I 
heard Mrs. Snowden say disapprovingly, "What 
a display of military!" I could not resist the 
temptation of remarking: "Madame, remember 
that the big Russian army is largely the making 
of your own country. Had England not helped 


to finance the invasions into Russia, the latter 
could put its soldiers to useful labour/* 

The British Mission was entertained royally 
with theatres, operas, ballets, and excursions. 1 
Luxury was heaped upon them while the people 
slaved and went hungry. The Soviet Govern- 
ment left nothing undone to create a good im- 
pression and everything of a disturbing nature 
was kept from the visitors. Angelica hated the 
display and sham, and suffered keenly under the 
rigid watch placed upon every movement of the 
Mission. "Why should they not see the true 
state of Russia? Why should they not learn 
how the Russian people live?" she would lament. 
"Yet I am so impractical/' she would correct 
herself; "perhaps it is all necessary." At the 
end^of two weeks a farewell banquet was given to 
the visitors. Angelica insisted that I must 
attend. Again there were speeches and toasts, 
as is the custom at such functions. The speeches 
which seemed to ring most sincere were those of 
Balabanova and Madame Ravitch. The latter 
asked me to interpret her address, which I did. 
She spoke in behalf of the Russian women prole- 
tarians and praised their fortitude and devotion 
to the Revolution. "May the English proleta- 
rians learn the quality of their heroic Russian 


sisters," concluded Madame Ravitch. Mrs. 
Snowden, the erstwhile suffragette, had not a 
word in reply. She preserved a "dignified" 
aloofness. However, the lady became enlivened 
when the speeches were over and she got busy 
collecting autographs. 



EARLY in May two young men from the 
Ukraina arrived in Petrograd. Both had 
lived in America for a number of years 
and had been active in the Yiddish Labour and 
Anarchist movements. One of them had also 
been editor of an English weekly Anarchist 
paper, The Alarm, published in Chicago. In 
1917, at the outbreak of the Revolution, they 
left for Russia together with other emigrants. 
Arriving in their native country, they joined the 
Anarchist activities there which had gained tre- 
mendous impetus through the Revolution. Their 
main field was the Ukraina, In 1918 they aided 
in the organization of the Anarchist Federation 
Nabat [Alarm], and began the publication of a 
paper by that name. Theoretically, they were 
at variance with the Bolsheviki; practically the 
Federation Anarchists, even as the Anarchists 
throughout Russia, worked with the Bolsheviki 



and also fought on every front against the 
counter-revolutionary forces. 

When the two Ukrainian comrades learned of 
our arrival in Russia they repeatedly tried to 
reach us, but owing to the political conditions 
and the practical impossibility of travelling, 
they could not come north. Subsequently 
they had been arrested and imprisoned by the 
Bolsheviki. Immediately upon their release 
they started for Petrograd, travelling illegally. 
They knew the dangers confronting them 
arrest and possible shooting for the possession and 
use of false documents but they were willing to 
risk anything because they were determined 
that we should learn the facts about the pov- 
stantsi [revolutionary peasants] movements led 
by that extraordinary figure, Nestor Makhno. 
They wanted to acquaint us with the history of 
the Anarchist activities in Russia and relate 
how the iron hand of the Bolsheviki had crushed 

During two weeks, in the stillness of the 
Petrograd nights, the two Ukrainian Anarchists 
unrolled before us the panorama of the struggle 
in the Ukraina. Dispassionately, quietly, and 
with almost uncanny detachment the young 
men told their story. 


Thirteen different governments had " ruled 11 
Ukraina. Each of them had robbed and mur- 
dered the peasantry, made ghastly pogroms, 
and left death and ruin in its way. The Ukrain- 
ian peasants, a more independent and spirited 
race than their northern brothers, had come to 
hate all governments and every measure which 
threatened their land and freedom. They 
banded together and fought back their oppres- 
sors all through the long years of the revolu- 
tionary period. The peasants had no theories; 
they could not be classed in any political party. 
Theirs was an instinctive hatred of tyranny, and 
practically the whole of Ukraina soon became a 
rebel camp. Into this seething cauldron there 
came, in 1917, Nestor Makhno. 

Makhno was a Ukrainian born. A natural 
rebel, he became interested in Anarchism at an 
early age. At seventeen he attempted the life 
of a Tsarist spy and was sentenced to death, but 
owing to his extreme youth the sentence was 
commuted to katorga for life [severe imprison- 
ment, one third of the term in chains]. The 
February Revolution opened the prison doors 
for all political prisoners, Makhno among them. 
He had then spent ten years in the Butirky 
prison, in Moscow. He had but a limited 


schooling when first arrested, but in prison he had 
used his leisure to good advantage. By the 
time of his release he had acquired considerable 
knowledge of history, political economy, and 
literature. Shortly after his liberation Makhno 
returned to his native village, Gulyai-Poleh, 
where he organized a trade union and the local 
soviet. Then he threw himself in the revolu- 
tionary movement and during all of 1917 he was 
the spiritual teacher and leader of the rebel 
peasants, who had risen against the landed pro- 

In 1918, when the Brest Peace opened Ukraina 
to German and Austrian occupation, Makhno 
organized the rebel peasant bands in defence 
against the foreign armies. He fought against 
Skofopadski, the Ukrainian Hetman, who was 
supported by German bayonets. He waged 
successful guerilla warfare against Petlura, Kale- 
din, Grigoriev, and Denikin. A conscious Anar- 
chist, he laboured to give the instinctive rebellion 
of the peasantry definite aim and purpose. It 
was the Makhno idea that the social revolution 
was to be defended against all enemies, against 
every counter-revolutionary or reactionary at- 
tempt from right and left. At the same time 
educational and cultural work was carried on 


among the peasants to develop them along 
anarchist-communist lines with the aim of es- 
tablishing free peasant communes. 

In February, 1919, Makhno entered into an 
agreement with the Red Army. He was to 
continue to hold the southern front against 
Denikin and to receive from the Bolsheviki the 
necessary arms and ammunition. Makhno was 
to remain in charge of the povstantsi, now grown 
into an army, the latter to have autonomy in its 
local organizations, the revolutionary Soviets of 
the district, which covered several provinces. 
It was agreed that the povstantsi should have the 
right to hold conferences, freely discuss their 
affairs, and take action upon them. Three such 
conferences were held in February, March, and 
April. But the Bolsheviki failed to live up to the 
agreement. The supplies which had been prom- 
ised Makhno, and which he needed desperately, 
would arrive after long delays or failed to come 
altogether. It was charged that this situation 
was due to the orders of Trotsky who did not 
look favourably upon the independent rebel 
army. However it be, Makhno was hampered 
at every step, while Denikin was gaining ground 
constantly. Presently the Bolsheviki began 
to object to the free peasant Soviets, and in 


May, 1919, the Commander-in-Chief of the 
southern armies, Kamenev, accompanied by 
members of the Kharkov Government, arrived 
at the Makhno headquarters to settle the dis- 
puted matters. In the end the Bolshevik mili- 
tary representatives demanded that the pov- 
stantsi dissolve. The latter refused, charging the 
Bolsheviki with a breach of their revolutionary 
agreement. , 

Meanwhile, the Denikin advance was becom- 
ing more threatening, and Makhno still received 
no support from the Bolsheviki. The peasant 
army then decided to call a special session of the 
Soviet for June isth. Definite plans and meth- 
ods were to be decided upon to check the grow- 
ing menace of Denikin. But on June 4th 
Trotsky issued an order prohibiting the holding 
of the Conference and declaring Makhno an 
outlaw. In a public meeting in Kharkov Trot- 
sky announced that it were better to permit the 
Whites to remain in the Ukraina than to suffer 
Makhno. The presence of the Whites, he said, 
would influence the Ukrainian peasantry in 
favour of the Soviet Government, whereas 
Makhno and his povstantsi would never make 
peace with the Bolsheviki; they would attempt 
to possess themselves of some territory and to 


practice their ideas, which would be a constant 
menace to the Communist Government. It 
was practically a declaration of war against 
Makhno and his army. Soon the latter found 
itself attacked on two sides at once by the 
Bolsheviki and Denikin. The povstantsi were 
poorly equipped and lacked the most necessary 
supplies for warfare, yet the peasant army for a 
considerable time succeeded in holding its own 
by the sheer military genius of its leader and the 
reckless courage of his devoted rebels. 

At the same time the Bolsheviki began a 
campaign of denunciation against Makhno and 
his povstantsi. The Communist press accused 
him of having treacherously opened the south- 
ern front to Denikin, and branded Makhno's 
army a bandit gang and its leader a counter- 
revolutionist who must be destroyed at all cost. 
But this " counter-revolutionist'* fully realized 
the Denikin menace to the Revolution. He 
gathered new forces and support among the 
peasants and in the months of September and 
October, 1919, his campaign against Denikin 
gave the latter its death blow on the Ukraina. 
Makhno captured Denikin's artillery base at 
Mariopol, annihilated the rear of the enemy's 
army, and succeeded in separating the main 


body from its base of supply. This brilliant 
manoeuvre of Makhno and the heroic fighting 
of the rebel army again brought about friendly 
contact with the Bolsheviki. The ban was 
lifted from the povstantsi and the Communist 
press now began to eulogize Makhno as a great 
military genius and brave defender of the Revo- 
lution in the Ukraina. But the differences 
between Makhno and the Bolsheviki were deep- 
rooted: he strove to establish free peasant 
communes in the Ukraina, while the Commun- 
ists were bent on imposing the Moscow rule. 
Ultimately a clash was inevitable, and it came 
early in January, 1920. 

At that period a new enemy was threatening the 
Revolution. Grigoriev, formerly of the Tsarist 
army, later friend of the Bolsheviki, now turned 
against them. Having gained considerable sup- 
port in the south because of his slogans of free- 
dom and free Soviets, Grigoriev proposed to 
Makhno that they join forces against the 
Gommunist regime. Makhno called a meeting 
of the two armies and there publicly accused 
Grigoriev of counter-revolution and produced 
evidence of numerous pogroms organized by 
him against the Jews. Declaring Grigoriev an 
enemy of the people and of the Revolution, 


Makhno and his staff condemned him and his 
aides to death, executing them on the spot. 
Part of Grigoriev's army joined Makhno. 

Meanwhile, Denikin kept pressing Makhno, 
finally forcing him to withdraw from his posi- 
tion. Not of course without bitter fighting all 
along the line of nine hundred versts, the retreat 
lasting four months, Makhno marching toward 
Galicia. Denikin advanced upon Kharkov, then 
farther north, capturing Orel and Kursk, and 
finally reached the gates of Tula, in the immediate 
neighbourhood of Moscow. 

The Red Army seemed powerless to check the 
advance of Denikin, but meanwhile Makhno 
had gathered new forces and attacked Denikin 
in the rear. The unexpectedness of this new 
turn and the extraordinary military exploits of 
Makhno's men in this campaign disorganized 
the plans of Denikin, demoralized his army, and 
gave the Red Army the opportunity of taking the 
offensive against the counter-revolutionary en- 
emy in the neighbourhood of Tula. 

When the Red Army reached Alexandrovsk, 
after having finally beaten the Denikin forces, 
Trotsky again demanded of Makhno that he 
disarm his men and place himself under the 
discipline of the Red Army. The povstantsi 


refused, whereupon an organized military cam- 
paign against the rebels was inaugurated, the 
Bolsheviki taking many prisoners and killing 
scores of others. Makhno, who managed to 
escape the Bolshevik net, was again declared an 
outlaw and bandit. Since then Makhno had 
been uninterruptedly waging guerilla warfare 
against the Bolshevik regime. 

The story of the Ukrainian friends, which I 
have related here in very condensed form, 
sounded as romantic as the exploits of Stenka 
Rasin, the famous Cossack rebel immortalized 
by Gogol. Romantic and picturesque, but what 
bearing did the activities of Makhno and his 
men have upon Anarchism, I questioned the two 
comrades. Makhno, my informants explained, 
was himself an Anarchist seeking to free Ukraina 
from all oppression and striving to develop and 
organize the peasants' latent anarchistic tend- 
encies. To this end Makhno had repeatedly 
called upon the Anarchists of the Ukraina and 
of Russia to aid him. He offered them the 
widest opportunity for propagandistic and educa- 
tional work, supplied them with printing out- 
fits and meeting places, and gave them the fullest 
liberty of action. Whenever Makhno captured 
a city, freedom of speech and press for Anarch- 


ists and Left Social Revolutionists was es- 
tablished. Makhno often said: "I am a military 
man and I have no time for educational work. 
But you who are writers and speakers, you can 
do that work. Join me and together we shall be 
able to prepare the field for a real Anarchist 
experiment." But the chief value of the Mak- 
hno movement lay in the peasants themselves, 
my comrades thought. It was a spontaneous, 
elemental movement, the peasants' opposition 
to all governments being the result not of 
theories but of bitter experience and of instinc- 
tive love of liberty. They were fertile ground for 
Anarchist ideas. For this reason a number of 
Anarchists joined Makhno. They were with 
him in most of his military campaigns and 
energetically carried on Anarchist propaganda 
during that time. 

I have been told by Zorin and other Commun- 
ists that Makhno was a Jew-baiter and that his 
povstantsi were responsible for numerous brutal 
pogroms. My visitors emphatically denied the 
charges. Makhno bitterly fought pogroms^ they 
stated; he had often issued proclamations against 
such outrages, and he had even with his own 
hand punished some of those guilty of assault 
on Jews. Hatred of the Hebrew was of course 


common in the Ukraina; it was not eradicated 
even among the Red soldiers. They, too, have 
assaulted, robbed, and outraged Jews; yet no one 
holds the Bolsheviki responsible for such isolated 
instances. The Ukraina is infested with armed 
bands who are often mistaken for Makhnovtsi 
and who have made pogroms. The Bolsheviki, 
aware of this, have exploited the confusion to 
discredit Makhno and his followers. However, 
the Anarchist of the Ukraina I was informed 
did not idealize the Makhno movement. They 
knew that the povstantsi were not conscious 
Anarchists. Their paper Nabat had repeatedly 
emphasized this fact. On the other hand, the 
Anarchists could not overlook the importance of 
popular movement which was instinctively re- 
bellious, anarchistically inclined, and successful 
in driving back the enemies of the Revolution, 
which the better organized and equipped Bol- 
shevik army could not accomplish. For this 
reason many Anarchists considered it their duty 
to work with Makhno. But the bulk remained 
away; they had their larger cultural, educational, 
and organizing work to do. 

The invading counter-revolutionary forces, 
though differing in character and purpose, all 
agreed in their relentless persecution of the 


Anarchists. The latter were made to suffer, 
whatever the new regime. The Bolsheviki were 
no better in this regard than Denikin or any 
other White element. Anarchists filled Bol- 
shevik prisons; many had been shot and all legal 
Anarchist activities were suppressed. The 
Tcheka especially was doing ghastly work, 
having resurrected the old Tsarist methods, 
including even torture. 

My young visitors spoke from experience: 
they had repeatedly been in Bolshevik prisons 



THE terrible story I had been listening to 
for two weeks broke over me like a storm. 
Was this the Revolution I had believed 
in all my life, yearned for, and strove to interest 
others in, or was it a caricature a hideous 
monster that had come to jeer and mock me? 
The Communists I had met daily during six 
months self-sacrificing, hard-working men and 
women imbued With a high ideal were such 
people capable of the treachery and horrors 
charged against them? Zinoviev, Radek, Zorin, 
Ravitch, and many others I had learned to 
know could they in the name of an ideal lie, 
defame, torture, kill? But, then had not 
Zorin told me that capital punishment had been 
abolished in Russia ? Yet I learned shortly after 
my arrival that hundreds of people had been 
shot on the very eve of the day when the new 
decree went into effect, and that as a matter of 
fact shooting by the Tcheka had never ceased. 



That my friends were not exaggerating when 
they spoke of tortures by the Tcheka, I also 
learned from other sources. Complaints about 
the fearful conditions in Petrograd prisons had 
become so numerous that Moscow was apprised 
of the situation. A Tcheka inspector came to 
investigate. The prisoners being afraid to speak, 
immunity was promised them. But no sooner 
had the inspector left than one of the inmates, a 
young boy, who had been very outspoken about 
the brutalities practised by the Tcheka, was 
dragged out of his cell and cruelly beaten. 

Why did Zorin resort to lies ? Surely he must 
have known that I would not remain in the dark 
very long. And then, was not Lenin also guilty 
of the same methods? "Anarchists of ideas 
[ideyni] are not in our prisons/' he had assured 
me. Yet at that very moment numerous An- 
archists filled the jails of Moscow and Petrograd 
and of many other cities in Russia. In May, 
1920, scores of them had been arrested in Petro- 
grad, among them two girls of seventeen and 
nineteen years of age. None of the prisoners 
were charged with counter-revolutionary activi- 
ties: they were "Anarchists of ideas," to use 
Lenin's expression. Several of them had issued 
.a manifesto for the First of May, calling atten- 


tion to the appalling conditions in the factories of 
the Socialist Republic. The two young girls 
who had circulated a handbill against the 
"labour book/' which had then just gone into 
effect, were also arrested. 

The labour book was heralded by the Bol- 
sheviki as one of the great Communist achieve- 
ments. It would establish equality and abolish 
parasitism, it was claimed. As a matter of 
fact, the labour book was somewhat of the 
character of the yellow ticket issued to prosti- 
tutes under the Tsarist regime. It was a record 
of every step one made, and without it no step 
could be made. It bound its holder to his job, 
to the city he lived in, and to the room he oc- 
cupied. It recorded one's political faith and 
party adherence, and the number of times he was 
arrested. In short, a yellow ticket. Even some 
Communists resented the degrading innovation. 
The Anarchists who protested against it were 
arrested by the Tcheka. When certain leading 
Communists were approached in the matter 
they repeated what Lenin had said: "No 
Anarchists of ideas are in our prisons." 

The aureole was falling from the Communists. 
All of them seemed to believe that the end justi- 
fied the means. I recalled the statements of 


Radek at the first anniversary of the Third 
International, when he related to his audience 
the "marvellous spread of Communism" in 
America. " Fifty thousand Communists are in 
American prisons/' he exclaimed. "Molly 
Stimer, a girl of eighteen, and her male com- 
panions, all Communists, had been deported 
from America for their Communist activities." 
I thought at the time that Radek was misin- 
formed. Yet it seemed strange that he did not 
make sure of his facts before making such asser- 
tions. They were dishonest and an insult to 
Molly Stimer and her Anarchist comrades, 
added to the injustice they had suffered at the 
hands of the American plutocracy. 

During the past several months I had seen 
and heard enough to become somewhat con- 
versant with the Communist psychology, as 
well as with the theories and methods of the 
Bolsheviki. I was no longer surprised at the 
story of their double-dealing with Makhno, the 
brutalities practised by the Tcheka, the lies of 
Zorin. I had come to realize that the Com- 
munists believed implicitly in the Jesuitic for- 
mula that the end justifies all means. In fact, 
they gloried in that formula. Any suggestion 
of the value of human life, quality of character, 


the importance of revolutionary integrity as the 
basis of a new social order, was repudiated as 
"bourgeois sentimentality/' which had no place 
in the revolutionary scheme of things. For the 
Bolsheviki the end to be achieved was the 
Communist State, or the so-called Dictator- 
ship of the Proletariat. Everything which ad- 
vanced that end was justifiable and revolution- 
ary. The Lenins, Radeks, and Zorins were 
therefore quite consistent. Obsessed by the 
infallibility of their creed, giving of themselves 
to the fullest, they could be both heroic and 
despicable at the same time. They could work 
twenty hours a day, live on herring and tea, 
and order the slaughter of innocent men and 
women. Occasionally they sought to mask their 
killings by pretending a "misunderstanding," 
for doesn't the end justify all means? They 
could employ torture and deny the inquisition, 
they could lie and defame, and call themselves 
idealists. In short, they could make them- 
selves and others believe that everything was 
legitimate and right from the revolutionary 
viewpoint; any other policy was weak, senti- 
mental, or a betrayal of the Revolution. 

On a certain occasion, when I passed criticism 
on the brutal way delicate women were driven 


into the streets to shovel snow, insisting that 
even if they had belonged to the bourgeoisie 
they were human, and that physical fitness 
should be taken into consideration, a Commun- 
ist said to me: "You should be ashamed of 
yourself; you, an old revolutionist, and yet so 
sentimental." It was the same attitude that 
some Communists assumed toward Angelica 
Balabanova, because she was always solicitous 
and eager to help wherever possible. In short, 
I had come to see that the Bolsheviki were 
social puritans who sincerely believed that they 
alone were ordained to save mankind. My 
relations with the Bolsheviki became more 
strained, my attitude toward the Revolution 
as I found it more critical. 

One thing grew quite clear to me: I could not 
affiliate myself with the Soviet Government; I 
could not accept any work which would place 
me under the control of the Communist machine. 
The Commissariat of Education was so thor- 
oughly dominated by that machine that it was 
hopeless to expect anything but routine work. 
In fact, unless one was a Communist one could 
accomplish almost nothing. I had been eager to 
join Lunacharsky, whom I considered one of the 
most cultivated and least dogmatic of the 


Communists in high position. But I became 
convinced that Lunacharsky himself was a 
helpless cog in the machine, his best efforts con- 
stantly curtailed and checked. I had also 
learned a great deal about the system of favourit- 
ism and graft that prevailed in the management 
of the schools and the treatment of children. 
Some schools were in splendid condition, the 
children well fed and well clad, enjoying con- 
certs, theatricals, dances, and other amuse- 
ments. But the majority of the schools and 
children's homes were squalid, dirty, and neg- 
lected. Those in charge of the "preferred" 
schools had little difficulty in procuring every- 
thing needed for their charges, often having an 
over-supply. But the caretakers of the " com- 
mon" schools would waste their time and energies 
by the week going about from one department 
to another, discouraged and faint with endless 
waiting before they could obtain the merest 

At first I ascribed this condition of affairs to 
the scarcity of food and materials. I heard it 
said often enough that the blockade and inter- 
vention were responsible. To a large extent 
that was true. Had Russia not been so starved, 
mismanagement and graft would not have had 


such fatal results. But added to the prevalent 
-scarcity of things was the dominant notion of 
Communist propaganda. Even the children 
had to serve that end. The well-kept schools 
were for show, for the foreign missions and dele- 
gates who were visiting Russia. Everything 
was lavished on these show schools at the cost of 
the others. 

I remembered how everybody was startled in 
Petrograd by an article in the Petrograd Pravda 
of May, disclosing appalling conditions in the 
schools. A committee of the Young Com- 
munist organizations investigated some of the 
institutions. They found the children dirty, 
full of vermin, sleeping on filthy mattresses, fed 
on miserable food, punished by being locked 
in dark rooms for the night, forced to go without 
their suppers, and even beaten. The number 
of officials and employees in the schools was 
nothing less than criminal. In one school, for 
instance, there were 138 of them to 125 children. 
In another, 40 to 25 children. All these para- 
sites were taking the bread from the very mouths 
of the unfortunate children. 

The Zorins had spoken to me repeatedly of 
Lillina, the woman in charge of the Petrograd 
Educational Department. She was a wonderful 


worker, they said, devoted and able. I had 
heard her speak on several occasions, but was not 
impressed: she looked prim and self-satisfied, a 
typical Puritan schoolma'am. But I would not 
form an opinion until I had talked with her. At 
the publication of the school disclosures I decided 
to see Lillina. We conversed over an hour 
about the schools in her charge, about education 
in general, the problem of defective children and 
their treatment. She made light of the abuses 
in her schools, claiming that "the young com- 
rades had exaggerated the defects/* At any rate, 
she added, the guilty had already been removed 
from the schools. 

Similarly to many other responsible Com- 
munists Lillina was consecrated to her work and 
gave all her time and energies to it. Naturally, 
she could not personally oversee everything; 
the show schools being the most important in 
her estimation, she devoted most of her time to 
them. The other schools were left in the care 
of her numerous assistants, whose fitness for 
the work was judged largely according to their 
political usefulness. Our talk strengthened my 
conviction that I could have no part in the work 
of the Bolshevik Board of Education. 

The Board of Health offered as little oppor- 


tunity for real service service that should not 
discriminate in favour of show hospitals or the 
political views of the patients. This principle of 
discrimination prevailed, unfortunately, even in 
the sick rooms. Like all Communist institu- 
tions, the Board of Health was headed by a 
political Commissar, Doctor Pervukhin. He 
was anxious to secure my assistance, proposing 
to put me in charge of factory, dispensary, or 
district nursing a very flattering and tempting 
offer, and one that appealed to me strongly. I 
had several conferences with Doctor Pervukhin, 
but they led to no practical result. 

Whenever I visited his department I found 
groups of men and women waiting, endlessly 
waiting. They were doctors and nurses, mem- 
bers of the intelligentsia none of them Com- 
munists who were employed in various medical 
branches, but their time and energies were being 
wasted in the waiting rooms of Doctor Per- 
vukhin, the political Commissar. They were a 
sorry lot, dispirited and dejected, those men and 
women, once the flower of Russia. Was I to 
join this tragic procession, submit to the political 
yoke? Not until I should become convinced 
that the yoke was indispensable to the revolu- 
tionary process would I consent to it. I felt that 


I must first secure work of a non-partisan char- 
acter, work that would enable me to study con- 
ditions in Russia and get into direct touch with 
the people, the workers and peasants. Only 
then should I be'able to find my way out of the 
chaos of doubt and mental anguish that I had 
fallen prey to. 



THE Museum of the Revolution is housed 
in the Winter Palace, in the suite once 
used as the nursery of the Tsar's children. 
The entrance to that part of the palace is known 
as detsky podyezd. From the windows of the 
palace the Tsar must have often looked across 
the Neva at the Peter-and-Paul Fortress, the 
living tomb of his political enemies. How dif- 
ferent things were now! The thought of it 
kindled my imagination. I was full of the 
wonder and the magic of the great change when 
I paid my first visit to the Museum. 

I found groups of men and women at work in 
the various rooms, huddled up in their wraps and 
shivering with cold. Their faces were bloated 
and bluish, their hands frost-bitten, their whole 
appearance shadow-like. What must be the 
devotion of these people, I thought, when they 
can continue to work under such conditions. 
The secretary of the Museum, M. B. Kaplan, 



received me very cordially and expressed "the 
hope that I would join in the work of the Mu- 
seum. " He and another member of the staff 
spent considerable time with me on several oc- 
casions, explaining the plans and purposes of the 
Museum. They asked me to join the expedition 
which the Museum was then organizing, and 
which was to go south to the Ukraina and the 
Caucasus. Valuable material of the revolu- 
tionary period was to be gathered there, they 
explained. The idea attracted me. Aside from 
my general interest in the Museum and its ef- 
forts, it meant non-partisan work, free from 
Commissars, and an exceptional opportunity 
to see and study Russia. 

In the course of our acquaintance I learned 
that neither Mr. Kaplan nor his friend was 
a Communist. But while Mr. Kaplan was 
strongly pro-Bolshevik and tried to defend and 
explain away everything, the other man was 
critical though by no means antagonistic. Dur- 
ing my stay in Petrograd I saw much of both 
men, and I learned from them a great deal about 
the Revolution and the methods of the Bolshe- 
viki. Kaplan's friend, whose name for obvious 
reasons I cannot mention, often spoke of the 
utter impossibility of doing creative work within 


the Communist machine. "The Bolsheviki," he 
would say, "always complain about lack of able 
help, yet no one unless a Communist has 
much of a chance." The Museum was among 
the least interfered with institutions, and work 
there had been progressing well. Then a group 
of twenty youths were sent over, young and 
inexperienced boys unfamiliar with the work. 
Being Communists they were placed in positions 
of authority, and friction and confusion resulted. 
Everyone felt himself watched and spied upon. 
"The Bolsheviki care not about merit," he said; 
"their chief concern is a membership card." 
He was not enthusiastic about the future of the 
Museum, yet believed that the cooperation of the 
"Americans" would aid its proper development. 
Finally I decided on the Museum as offering 
the most suitable work for me, mainly because 
that institution was non-partisan. I had hoped 
for a more vital share in Russia's life than the 
collecting of historical material; still I considered 
it valuable and necessary work. When I had 
definitely consented to become a member of the 
expedition, I visited the Museum daily to help 
with the preparations for the long journey. 
There was much work. It was no easy matter 
to obtain a car, equip it for the arduous trip, 


and secure the documents which would give us 
access to the material we set out to collect. 

While I was busy aiding in these prepara- 
tions Angelica Balabanova arrived in Petrograd 
to meet the Italian Mission. She seemed 
transformed. She had longed for her Italian 
comrades: they would bring her a breath of her 
beloved Italy, of her former life and work there. 
Though Russian by birth, training, and revolu- 
tionary traditions, Angelica had become rooted 
in the soil of Italy. Well I understood her and 
her sense of strangeness in the country, the 
hard soil of which was to bear a new and radiant 
life. Angelica would not admit even to herself 
that the much hoped-for life was stillborn. But 
knowing her as I did, it was not difficult for me 
to understand how bitter was her grief over the 
hapless and formless thing that had come to 
Russia. But now her beloved Italians were com- 
ing! They would bring with them the warmth 
and colour of Italy. 

The Italians came and with them new festivi- 
ties, demonstrations, meetings, and speeches. 
How different it all appeared to me from my 
memorable first days on Belo-Ostrov. No doubt 
the Italians now felt as awed as I did then, as 
inspired by the seeming wonder of Russia. Six 


months and the close proximity with the reality 
of things quite changed the picture for me. The 
spontaneity, the enthusiasm, the vitality had 
all gone out of it. Only a pale shadow remained, 
a grinning phantom that clutched at my heart. 

On the Uritski Square the masses were grow- 
ing weary with long waiting. They had been 
kept there for hours before the Italian Mission 
arrived from the Tauride Palace. The cere- 
monies were just beginning when a woman lean- 
ing against the platform, wan and pale, began to 
weep. I stood close by. " It is easy for them to 
talk/' she moaned, "but we've had no food all 
day We received orders to march directly 
from our work on pain of losing our bread rations. 
Since five this morning I am on my feet. We 
were not permitted to go home after work to our 
bit of dinner. We had to come here. Seventeen 
hours on a piece of bread and some kipyatok 
[boiled water]. Do the visitors know anything 
about us ?" The speeches went on, the "Interna- 
tionale" was being repeated for the tenth time, 
the sailors performed their fancy exercises and 
the claqueurs on the reviewing stand were shout- 
ing hurrahs. I rushed away. I, too, was weep- 
ing, though my eyes remained dry. 

The Italian, like the English, Mission was 


quartered in the Narishkin Palace. One day, 
on visiting Angelica there, I found her in a per- 
turbed state of mind. Through one of the 
servants she had learned that the ex-princess 
Narishkin, former owner of the palace, had 
come to beg for the silver ikon which had been 
in the family for generations. "Just that ikon," 
she had implored. But the ikon was now state 
property, and Balabanova could do nothing 
about it. "Just think/' Angelica said, "Nar- 
ishkin, old and desolate, now stands on the 
street corner begging, and I live in this palace. 
How dreadful is life ! I am no good for it; I must 
get away." 

But Angelica was bound by party discipline; 
she stayed on in the palace until she returned to 
Moscow. I know she did not feel much happier 
than the ragged and starving ex-princess begging 
on the street corner. 

Balabanova, anxious that I should find suit- 
able work, informed me one day that Petrovsky, 
known in America as Doctor Goldfarb, had 
arrived in Petrograd. He was Chief of the 
Central Military Education Department, which 
included Nurses' Training Schools. I had never 
met the man in the States, but I had heard of 
him as the labour editor of the New York For- 


ward, the Jewish Socialist daily. He offered me 
the position of head instructress in the military 
Nurses' Training School, with a view to intro- 
ducing American methods of nursing, or to 
send me with a medical train to the Polish front. 
I had proffered my services at the first news of 
the Polish attack on Russia: I felt the Revolution 
in danger, and I hastened to Zorin to ask to be 
assigned as a nurse. He promised to bring the 
matter before the proper authorities, but I 
heard nothing further about it. I was, there- 
fore, somewhat surprised at the proposition of 
Petrovsky. However, it came too late. What 
I had since learned about the situation in the 
Ukraina, the Bolshevik methods toward Mak- 
hno and the povstantsi movement, the persecu- 
tion of Anarchists, and the Tcheka activities, 
had completely shaken my faith in the Bolshe- 
viki as revolutionists. The offer came too late. 
But Moscow perhaps thought it unwise to let 
me see behind the scenes at the front; Petrovsky 
failed to inform me of the Moscow decision. I 
felt relieved. 

At last we received the glad tidings that the 
greatest difficulty had been overcome: a car 
for the Museum Expedition had been secured. 
It consisted of six compartments and was 


newly painted and cleaned. Now began the 
work of equipment. Ordinarily it would have 
taken another two months, but we had the co- 
operation of the man at the head of the Mu- 
seum, Chairman Yatmanov, a Communist. He 
was also in charge of all the properties of the 
Winter Palace where the Museum is housed. 
The largest part of the linen, silver, and glass- 
ware from the Tsar's storerooms had been re- 
moved, but there was still much left. Supplied 
with an order of the chairman I was shown over 
what was once guarded as sacred precincts by 
Romanov flunkeys. I found rooms stacked to 
the ceiling with rare and beautiful china and 
compartments filled with the finest linen. The 
basement, running the whole length of the 
Winter Palace, was stocked with kitchen uten- 
sils of every size and variety. Tin plates and 
pots would have been more appropriate for the 
Expedition, but owing to the ruling that no 
institution may draw upon another for anything 
it has in its own possession, there was nothing 
to do but to choose the simplest obtainable at the 
Winter Palace. I went home reflecting upon 
the strangeness of life : revolutionists eating out 
of the crested service of the Romanovs. But I 
felt no elation over it. 



A SOME time was to pass before we could 
depart, I took advantage of the oppor- 
tunity which presented itself to visit the 
historic prisons, the Peter-and-Paul Fortress 
and Schliisselburg. I recollected the dread and 
awe the very names of these places filled me 
with when I first came to Petrograd as a child of 
thirteen. In fact, my dread of the Petropav- 
lovsk Fortress dated back to a much earlier time, 
I think I must have been six years old when a 
great shock had come to our family: we learned 
that my mother's oldest brother, Yegor, a stu- 
dent at the University of Petersburg, had been 
arrested and was held in the Fortress. My 
mother at once set out for the capital. We 
children remained at home in fear and trepida- 
tion lest Mother should not find our uncle among 
the living. We spent anxious weeks and months 
till finally Mother returned. Great was our re- 
joicing to hear that she had rescued her brother 



from the living dead. But the memory of the 
shock remained with me for a long time. 

Seven years later, my family then living in 
Petersburg, I happened to be sent on an errand 
which took me past the Peter-and-Paul Fortress. 
The shock I had received many years before 
revived within me with paralyzing force. There 
stood the heavy mass of stone, dark and sinister. 
I was terrified. The great prison was still tc 
me a haunted house, causing my heart to pal- 
pitate with fear whenever I had to pass it. 
Years later, when I had begun to draw suste- 
nance from the lives and heroism of the great 
Russian revolutionists, the Peter-and-Paul For- 
tress became still more hateful. And now I 
was about to enter its mysterious walls and see 
with my own eyes the place which had been the 
living grave of so many of the best sons and 
daughters of Russia. 

The guide assigned to take us through the 
different ravelins had been in the prison for ten 
years. He knew every stone in the place. But 
the silence told me more than all the information 
of the guide. The martyrs who had beaten 
their wings against the cold stone, striving up- 
ward toward the light and air, came to life for 
me. The Dekabristi, Tchernishevsky, Dostoy- 


cvsky, Bakunin, Kropotkin, and scores of others 
spoke in a thousand-throated voice of their 
social idealism and their personal suffering of 
their high hopes and fervent faith in the ultimate 
liberation of Russia. Now the fluttering spirits 
of the heroic dead may rest in peace: their dream 
has come true. But what is this strange writing 
on the wall ? "To-night I am to be shot because 
I had once acquired an education/* I had al- 
most lost consciousness of the reality. The 
inscription roused me to it. "What is this?" 
I asked the guard. "Those are the last words 
of an intelligent" he replied. "After the October 
Revolution the intelligentsia filled this prison. 
From here they were taken out and shot, or 
were loaded on barges never to return. Those 
were dreadful days and still more dreadful 
nights." So the dream of those who had given 
their lives for the liberation of Russia had not 
come true, after all. Is there any change in the 
world ? Or is it all an eternal recurrence of man's 
inhumanity to man ? 

We reached the strip of enclosure where the 
prisoners used to be permitted a half-hour's 
recreation. One by one they had to walk up and 
down the narrow lane in dead silence, with the 
sentries on the wall ready to shoot for the slight- 


est infraction of the rules. And while the caged 
and fettered ones treaded the treeless walk, the 
all-powerful Romanovs looked out of the Winter 
Palace toward the golden spire topping the For- 
tress to reassure themselves that their hated 
enemies would never again threaten their safety. 
But not even Petropavlovsk could save the 
Tsars from the slaying hand of Time and Revolu- 
tion. Indeed, there is change; slow and painful, 
but come it does. 

In the enclosure we met Angelica Balabanova 
and the Italians. We walked about the huge 
prison, each absorbed in his own thoughts set in 
motion by what he saw. Would Angelica notice 
the writing on the wall, I wondered. " To-night 
I am to be shot because I had once acquired* an 

Some time later several of our group made a 
trip to Schliisselburg, the even more dreadful 
tomb of the political enemies of Tsarism. It is 
a journey of several hours by boat up the beauti- 
ful River Neva. The day was chilly and gray, 
as was our mood; just the right state of mind to 
visit Schliisselburg. The fortress was strongly 
guarded, but our Museum permit secured for us 
immediate admission. Schliisselburg is a com- 
pact mass of stone perched upon a high rock in 


the open sea. For many decades only the vic- 
tims of court intrigues and royal disfavour were 
immured within its impenetrable walls, but 
later it became the Golgotha of the political 
enemies of the Tsarist regime. 

I had heard of Schliisselburg when my parents 
first came to Petersburg; but unlike my feeling 
toward the Peter-and-Paul Fortress, I had no 
personal reaction to the place. It was Russian 
revolutionary literature which brought the mean- 
ing of Schliisselburg home to me. Especially the 
story of Volkenstein, one of the two women who 
had spent long years in the dreaded place, left an 
indelible impression on my mind. Yet nothing 
I had read made the place quite so real and terri- 
fying as when I climbed up the stone steps and 
stood before the forbidding gates. As far as 
any effect upon the physical condition of the 
Peter-and-Paul Fortress was concerned, the 
Revolution might never have taken place. The 
prison remained intact, ready for immediate 
use by the new regime. Not so Schliisselburg. 
The wrath of the proletariat struck that house 
of the dead almost to the ground. 

How cruel and perverse the human mind 
which could create a Schliisselburg! Verily, no 
savage could be guilty of the fiendish spirit that 


conceived this appalling tomb. Cells built like 
a bag, without doors or windows and with only a 
small opening through which the victims were 
lowered into their living grave. Other cells were 
stone cages to drive the mind to madness and 
lacerate the heart of the unfortunates. Yet 
men and women endured twenty years in this 
terrible place. What fortitude, what power of 
endurance, what sublime faith one must have 
had to hold out, to emerge from it alive ! Here 
Netchaev, Lopatin, Morosov, Volkenstein, Fig- 
ner, and others of the splendid band spent their 
tortured lives. Here is the common grave of 
Ulianov, Mishkin, Kalayev, Balmashev, and 
many more. The black tablet inscribed with 
their names speaks louder than the voices 
silenced for ever. Not even the roaring waves 
dashing against the rock of Schliisselburg can 
drown that accusing voice. 

Petropavlovsk and Schliisselburg stand as the 
living proof of how futile is the hope of the mighty 
to escape the Frankensteins of their own making. 



IT WAS the month of June and the time of 
our departure was approaching. Petrograd 
seemed more beautiful than ever; the white 
nights had come almost broad daylight with- 
out its glare, the mysterious soothing white 
nights of Petrograd. There were rumours of 
counter-revolutionary danger and the city was 
guarded against attack. Martial law prevail- 
ing, it was forbidden to be out on the streets 
after i A. M., even though it was almost daylight. 
Occasionally special permits were obtained by 
friends and then we would walk through the 
deserted streets or along the banks of the dark 
Neva, discussing in whispers the perplexing 
situation. I sought for some outstanding feature 
in the blurred picture the Russian Revolution, 
a huge flame shooting across the world illumi- 
nating the black horizon of the disinherited and 
oppressed the Revolution, the new hope, the 
great spiritual awakening. And here I was in 
the midst of it, yet nowhere could I see the 



promise and fulfilment of the great event. Had 
I misunderstood the meaning and nature of 
revolution? Perhaps the wrong and the evil I 
have seen during those five months were insepa- 
rable from a revolution. Or was it the political 
machine which the Bolsheviki have created is 
that the force which is crushing the Revolution ? 
If I had witnessed the birth of the latter I 
should now be better able to judge. But ap- 
parently I arrived at the end the agonizing end 
of a people. It is all so complex, so impenetra- 
ble, a tupikj a blind alley, as the Russians call it. 
Only time and earnest study, aided by sym- 
pathetic understanding, will show me the way 
out. Meanwhile, I must keep up my courage and 
^-away from Petrograd, out among the people. 

Presently the long-awaited moment arrived. 
On June 30, 1920, our car was coupled to a slow 
train called "Maxim Gorki/' and we pulled out 
of the Nikolayevski station, bound for Moscow. 

In Moscow there were many formalities to go 
through with. We thought a few days would 
suffice, but we remained two weeks. However, 
our stay was interesting. The city was alive 
with delegates to the Second Congress of the 
Third International; from all parts of the world 
the workers had sent their comrades to the prom- 


ised land, revolutionary Russia, the first re- 
public of the workers. Among the delegates 
there were also Anarchists and syndicalists who 
believed as firmly as I did six months previously 
that the Bolsheviki were the symbol of the Revo- 
lution. They had responded to the Moscow 
call with enthusiasm. Some of them I had met 
in Petrograd and now they were eager to hear of 
my experiences and learn my opinions. But 
what was I to tell them, and would they believe 
me if I did ? Would I have believed any adverse 
criticism before I came to Russia? Besides, I 
felt that my views regarding the Bolsheviki 
were still too unformed, too vague, a conglomera- 
tion of mere impressions. My. old values had 
been shattered and so far I have been unable to 
replace them. I could therefore not speak on 
the fundamental questions, but I did inform my 
friends that the Moscow and Petrograd prisons 
were crowded with Anarchists and other revo- 
lutionists, and I advised them not to content 
themselves with the official explanations but to 
investigate for themselves. I warned them that 
they would be surrounded by guides and inter- 
preters, most of them men of the Tcheka, and that 
they would not be able to learn the facts unless 
they made a determined, independent effort. 


There was considerable excitement in Moscow 
at the time. The Printers' Union had been 
suppressed and its entire managing board sent 
to prison. The Union had called a public meet- 
ing to which members of the British Labour 
Mission were invited. There the famous Social- 
ist Revolutionist Tchernov had unexpectedly 
made his appearance. He severely criticised the 
Bolshevik regime, received an ovation from the 
huge audience of workers, and then vanished as 
mysteriously as he had come. The Menshevik 
Dan was less successful. He also addressed the 
meeting, but he failed to make his escape: 
he landed in the Tcheka. The next morning 
the Moscow Pravda and the Iwestia denounced 
the action of the Printers' Union as counter- 
revolutionary, and raged about Tchernov having 
been permitted to speak. The papers called for 
exemplary punishment of the printers who dared 
defy the Soviet Government. 

The Bakers' Union, a very militant organiza- 
tion, had also been suppressed, and its manage- 
ment replaced by Communists. Several months 
before, in March, I had attended a convention of 
the bakers. The delegates impressed me as a 
courageous group who did not fear to criticise 
the Bolshevik regime and present the demands 


of the workers. I wondered then that they were 
permitted to continue the conference, for they 
were outspoken in their opposition to the Com- 
munists. "The bakers are 'Shkurniki' [skin- 
ners]/' I was told; "they always instigate strikes, 
and only counter-revolutionists can wish to 
strike in the workers' Republic." But it seemed 
to me that the workers could not follow such 
reasoning. They did strike. They even com- 
mitted a more heinous crime: they refused to 
vote for the Communist candidate, electing in- 
stead a man of their own choice. This action 
of the bakers was followed by the arrest of 
several of their more active members. Natu- 
rally the workers resented the arbitrary methods 
of the Government. 

Later I met some of the bakers and found 
them much embittered against the Communist 
Party and the Government. I inquired about 
the condition of their union, telling them that I 
had been informed that the Russian unions were 
very powerful and had practical control of the 
industrial life of the country. The bakers 
laughed. "The trade unions are the lackeys 
of the Government/' they said; "they have no 
independent function, and the workers have no 
say in them. The trade unions are doing mere 


police duty for the Government/' That sounded 
quite different from the story told by Melnich- 
ansky, the chairman of the Moscow Trade 
Union Soviet, whom I had met on my first 
visit to Moscow. 

On that occasion he had shown me about the 
trade union headquarters known as the Dom 
Soyusov, and explained how the organization 
worked. Seven million workers were in the 
trade unions, he said; all trades and professions 
belonged to it. The workers themselves man- 
aged the industries and owned them. "The 
building you are in now is also owned by the 
unions/' he remarked with pride; " formerly it 
was the House of the Nobility/' The room we 
were in had been used for festive assemblies and 
the great nobles sat in crested chairs around the 
table in the centre. Melnichansky showed me 
the secret underground passage hidden by a little 
turntable, through which the nobles could 
escape in case of danger. They never dreamed 
that the workers would some day gather around 
the same table and sit in the beautiful hall of 
marble columns. The educational and cultural 
work done by the trade unions, the chairman 
further explained, was of the greatest scope. 
"We have our workers' colleges and other cul- 


tural institutions giving courses and lectures 
on various subjects. They are all managed by 
the workers. The unions own their own means 
of recreation, and we have access to all the 
theatres/' It was apparent from his explana- 
tion that the trade unions of Russia had reached 
a point far beyond anything known by labour 
organizations in Europe and America. 

A similar account I had heard from Tsipero- 
vitch, the chairman of the Petrograd trade 
unions, with whom I had made my first trip to 
Moscow. He had also shown me about the 
Petrograd Labour Temple, a beautiful and spa- 
cious building where the Petrograd unions had 
their offices. His recital also made it clear that 
the workers of Russia had at last come into 
their own. 

But gradually I began to see the other side 
of the medal. I found that like most things in 
Russia the trade union picture had a double 
facet: one paraded before foreign visitors and 
"investigators/' the other known by the masses. 
The bakers and the printers had recently been 
shown the other side. It was a lesson of the 
benefits that accrued to the trade unions in the 
Socialist Republic. 

In March I had attended an election meeting 


arranged by the workers of one of the large Mos- 
cow factories. It was the most exciting gather- 
ing I had witnessed in Russia the dimly lit hall 
in the factory club rooms, the faces of the men 
and women worn with privation and suffering, 
the intense feeling over the wrong done them, 
all impressed me very strongly. Their chosen 
representative, an Anarchist, had been refused 
his mandate by the Soviet authorities. It was 
the third time the workers gathered to re-elect 
their delegate to the Moscow Soviet, and every 
time they elected the same man. The Com- 
munist candidate opposing him was Semashko, 
the Commissar of the Department of Health. I 
had expected to find an educated and cultured 
man. But the behaviour and language of the 
Commissar at that election meeting would have 
put a hod-carrier to shame. He raved against the 
workers for choosing a non-Communist, called 
anathema upon their heads, and threatened 
them with the Tcheka and the curtailment of 
their rations. But he had no effect upon the 
audience except to emphasize their opposition to 
him, and to arouse antagonism against the party 
he represented. The final victory, however, 
was with Semashko. The workers' choice was 
repudiated by the authorities and later even 


arrested and imprisoned. That was in March. 
In May, during the visit of the British Labour 
Mission, the factory candidate together with 
other political prisoners declared a hunger strike, 
which resulted in their liberation. 

The story told me by the bakers of their 
election experiences had the quality of our own 
Wild West during its pioneer days. Tchekists 
with loaded guns were in the habit of attending 
gatherings of the unions and they made it clear 
what would happen if the workers should fail 
to elect a Communist. But the bakers, a strong 
and militant organization, would not be intimi- 
dated. They declared that no bread would be 
baked in Moscow unless they were permitted to 
elect their own candidate. That had the de- 
sired effect. After the meeting the Tchekists 
tried to arrest the candidate-elect, but the 
bakers surrounded him and saw him safely home. 
The next day they sent their ultimatum to the 
authorities, demanding recognition of their 
choice and threatening to strike in case of refusal. 
Thus the bakers triumphed and gained an ad- 
vantage over their less courageous brothers in 
the other labour organizations of minor impor- 
tance. In starving Russia the work of the bak- 
ers was as vital as life itself. 



THE Commissariat of Education also in- 
cluded the Department of Museums. The 
Petrograd Museum of the Revolution had 
two chairmen; Lunacharsky being one of them, 
it was necessary to secure his signature to our 
credentials which had already been signed by 
Zinoviev, the second chairman of the Museum. 
I was commissioned to see Lunacharsky. 

I felt rather guilty before him. I left Moscow 
in March promising to return within a week to 
join him in his work. Now, four months later, 
I came to ask his cooperation in an entirely dif- 
ferent field. I went to the Kremlin determined 
to tell Lunacharsky how I felt about the situa- 
tion in Russia. But I was relieved of the neces- 
sity by the presence of a number of people in his 
office; there was no time to take the matter up. 
I could merely inform Lunacharsky of the pur- 
pose of the expedition and request his aid in 
the work. It met with his approval. He signed 



our credentials and also supplied me with letters 
of introduction and recommendation to facilitate 
our efforts in behalf of the Museum. 

While our Commission was making the neces- 
sary preparations for the trip to the Ukraine, I 
found time to visit various institutions in Mos- 
cow and to meet some interesting people. Among 
them were certain well-known Left Social Revo- 
lutionists whom I had met on my previous 
visit. I had told them then that I was eager 
to visit Maria Spiridonova, of whose condition 
I had heard many conflicting stories. But at 
that time no meeting could be arranged : it might 
have exposed Spiridonova to danger, for she was 
living illegally, as a peasant woman. History 
indeed repeats itself. Under the Tsar Spiridon- 
ova, also disguised as a country girl, had shad- 
dowed Lukhanovsky, the Governor of Tamboy, 
of peasant-flogging fame. Having shot him, she 
was arrested, tortured, and later sentenced to 
death. The western world became aroused, 
and it was due to its protests that the sentence of 
Spiridonova was changed to Siberian exile for 
life. She spent eleven years there; the February 
Revolution brought her freedom and back to 
Russia. Maria Spiridonova immediately threw 
herself into revolutionary activity. Now, in 


the Socialist Republic, Maria was again living in 
disguise after having escaped from the prison in 
the Kremlin. 

Arrangements were finally made to enable me 
to visit Spiridonova, and I was cautioned to 
make sure that I was not followed by Tcheka 
men. We agreed with Maria's friends upon a 
meeting place and from there we zigzagged a 
number of streets till we at last reached the top 
floor of a house in the back of a yard. I was led 
into a small room containing a bed, small desk, 
bookcase, and several chairs. Before the desk, 
piled high with letters and papers, sat a frail 
little woman, Maria Spiridonova. This, then, 
was one of Russia's great martyrs, this woman 
who had so unflinchingly suffered the tortures 
inflicted upon her by the Tsar's henchmen. I 
had been told by Zorin and Jack Reed that 
Spiridonova had suffered a breakdown, and was 
kept in a sanatorium. Her malady, they said, 
was acute neurasthenia and hysteria. When 
I came face to face with Maria, I immediately 
realized that both men had deceived me. I was 
no longer surprised at Zorin: much of what he 
had told me I gradually discovered to be utterly 
false. As to Reed, unfamiliar with the language 
and completely under the sway of the new faith, 


he took too much for granted. Thus, on his 
return from Moscow he came to inform me that 
the story of the shooting of prisoners en masse on 
the eve of the abolition of capital punishment was 
really true; but, he assured me, it was all the 
fault of a certain official of the Tcheka who had 
already paid with his life for it. I had oppor- 
tunity to investigate the matter. I found that 
Jack had again been misled. It was not that a 
certain man was responsible for the wholesale 
killing on that occasion. The act was condi- 
tioned in the whole system and character of the 

I spent two days with Maria Spiridonova, 
listening to her recital of events since October, 
1917. She spoke at length about the enthusiasm 
and zeal of the masses and the hopes held out 
by the Bolsheviki; of their ascendancy to 
power and gradual turn to the right. She ex- 
plained the Brest-Litovsk peace which she con- 
sidered as the first link in the chain that has 
since fettered the Revolution. She dwelt on 
the razverstka, the system of forcible requisition, 
which was devastating Russia and discrediting 
everything the Revolution had been fought for; 
she referred to the terrorism practised by the 
Bolsheviki against every revolutionary criti- 


cism, to the new Communist bureaucracy and 
inefficiency, and the hopelessness of the whole 
situation. It was a crushing indictment against 
the Bolsheviki, their theories and methods. 

If Spiridonova had really suffered a break- 
down, as I had been assured, and was hysterical 
and mentally unbalanced, she must have had 
extraordinary control of herself. She was calm, 
self-contained, and clear on every point. She 
had the fullest command of her material and 
information. On several occasions during her 
narrative, when she detected doubt in my face, 
she remarked: "I fear you don't quite believe 
me. Well, here is what some of the peasants 
write me/' and she would reach over to a pile of 
letters on her desk and read to me passages heart- 
rending with misery and bitter against the 
Bolsheviki. In stilted handwriting, sometimes 
almost illegible, the peasants of the Ukraine 
and Siberia wrote of the horrors of the rawerstka 
and what it had done to them and their land. 
"They have taken away everything, even the 
last seeds for the next sowing/' "The Com- 
missars have robbed us of everything." Thus 
ran the letters. Frequently peasants wanted 
to know whether Spiridonova had gone over to 
the Bolsheviki. "If you also forsake us, ma- 


tushka, we have no one to turn to," one peasant 

The enormity of her accusations challenged 
credence. After all, the Bolsheviki were revolu- 
tionists. How could they be guilty of the 
terrible things charged against them? Perhaps 
they were not responsible for the situation as it 
had developed; they had the whole world against 
them. There was the Brest peace, for instance. 
When the news of it first reached America I 
happened to be in prison. I reflected long and 
carefully whether Soviet Russia was justified 
in negotiating with German imperialism. But 
I could see no way out of the situation. I was 
in favour of the Brest peace. Since I came to 
Russia I heard conflicting versions of it. Nearly 
everyone, excepting the Communists, considered 
the Brest agreement as much a betrayal of the 
Revolution as the role of the German Socialists 
in the war a betrayal of the spirit of interna- 
tionalism. The Communists, on the other hand, 
were unanimous in defending the peace and 
denouncing as counter-revolutionist everybody 
who questioned the wisdom and the revolu- 
tionary justification of that agreement. "We 
could do nothing else/' argued the Communists. 
"Germany had a mighty army, while we had 


none. Had we refused to sign the Brest treaty 
we should have sealed the fate of the Revolu- 
tion. We realized that Brest meant a compro- 
mise, but we knew that the workers of Russia and 
the rest of the world would understand that we 
had been forced to it. Our compromise was 
similar to that of workers when they are forced 
to accept the conditions of their masters after an 
unsuccessful strike." 

But Spiridonova was not convinced. " There 
is not one word of truth in the argument ad- 
vanced by the Bolsheviki," she said. It is 
true that Russia had no disciplined army to 
meet the German advance, but it had something 
infinitely more effective: it had a conscious 
revolutionary people who would have fought 
back the invaders to the last drop of blood. As 
a matter of fact, it was the people who had 
checked all the counter-revolutionary military 
attempts against Russia. Who else but the 
people, the peasants and the workers, made it 
impossible for the German and Austrian army 
to remain in the Ukraine? Who defeated 
Denikin and the other counter-revolutionary 
generals? Who triumphed over Koltchak and 
Yudenitch? Lenin and Trotsky claim that it 
was the Red Army. But the historic truth was 


that the voluntary military units of the workers 
and peasants the povstantsi in Siberia as well 
as in the south of Russia had borne the brunt 
of the fighting on every front, the Red Army 
usually only completing the victories of the 
former. Trotsky would have it now that the 
Brest treaty had to be accepted, but he himself 
had at one time refused to sign the treaty and 
Radek, Joffe, and other leading Communists 
had also been opposed to it. It is claimed now 
that they submitted to the shameful terms be- 
cause they realized the hopelessness of their 
expectation that the German workers would 
prevent the Junkers from marching against 
revolutionary Russia. But that was not the 
true reason. It was the whip of the party 
discipline which lashed Trotsky and others into 

"The trouble with the Bolsheviki," continued 
Spiridonova, "is that they have no faith in the 
masses. They proclaimed themselves a prole- 
tarian party, but they refused to trust the work- 
ers/' It was this lack of faith, Maria em- 
phasized, which made the Communists bow to 
German imperialism. And as concerns the 
Revolution itself, it was precisely the Brest 
peace which struck it a fatal blow. Aside from 


the betrayal of Finland, White Russia, Latvia, 
and the Ukraine which were turned over to the 
mercy of the German Junkers by the Brest 
peace the peasants saw thousands of their 
brothers slain, and had to submit to being robbed 
and plundered. The simple peasant mind could 
not understand the complete reversal of the 
former Bolshevik slogans of "no indemnity and 
no annexations." But even the simplest peas- 
ant could understand that his toil and his blood 
were to pay the indemnities imposed by the 
Brest conditions. The peasants grew bitter and 
antagonistic to the Soviet regime. Disheart- 
ened and discouraged they turned from the 
Revolution. As to the effect of the Brest peace 
upon the German workers, how could they 
continue in their faith in the Russian Revolution 
in view of the fact that the Bolsheviki negotiated 
and accepted the peace terms with the German 
masters over the heads of the German prole- 
tariat? The historic fact remains that the 
Brest peace was the beginning of the end of the 
Russian Revolution. No doubt other factors 
contributed to the debacle, but Brest was the 
most fatal of them. 

Spiridonova asserted that the Left Socialist 
Revolutionary elements had warned the Bol- 


sheviki against that peace and fought it des- 
perately. They refused to accept it even after 
it had been signed. The presence of Mirbach 
in Revolutionary Russia they considered an 
outrage against the Revolution, a crying injustice 
to the heroic Russian people who had sacrificed 
and suffered so much in their struggle against 
imperialism and capitalism. Spiridonova's party 
decided that Mirbach could not be tolerated 
in Russia: Mirbach had to go. Wholesale arrests 
and persecutions followed upon the execution 
of Mirbach, the Bolsheviki rendering service to 
the German Kaiser. They filled the prisons with 
the Russian revolutionists. 

In the course of our conversation I suggested 
that the method of razverstka was probably 
forced upon the Bolsheviki by the refusal of the 
peasants to feed the city. In the beginning of 
the revolutionary period, Spiridonova explained, 
so long as the peasant Soviets existed, the 
peasants gave willingly and generously. But 
when the Bolshevik Government began to dis- 
solve these Soviets and arrested 500 peasant 
delegates, the peasantry became antagonistic. 
Moreover, they daily witnessed the inefficiency 
of the Communist regime: they saw their prod- 
ucts lying at side stations and rotting away, 


or in possession of speculators on the market. 
Naturally under such conditions they would not 
continue to give. The fact that the peasants 
had never refused to contribute supplies to the 
Red Army proved that other methods than those 
used by the Bolsheviki could have been em- 
ployed. The razverstka served only to widen 
the breach between the village and the city. 
The Bolsheviki resorted to punitive expeditions 
which became the terror of the country. They 
left death and ruin wherever they came. The 
peasants, at last driven to desperation, began to 
idbel against the Communist regime. In various 
parts of Russia, in the south, on the Ural, and 
in Siberia, peasants' insurrections have taken 
place, and everywhere they were being put 
down by force of arms and with an iron hand. 

Spiridonova did not speak of her own suffer- 
ings since she had parted ways with the Bol- 
sheviki. But I learned from others that she had 
been arrested twice and imprisoned for a con- 
siderable length of time. Even when free she 
was kept under surveillance, as she had been in 
the time of the Tsar. On several occasions she 
was tortured by being taken out at night and 
informed that she was to be shot a favoured 
Tcheka method. I mentioned the subject to 


Spiridonova. She did not deny the facts, 
though she was loath to speak of herself. She 
was entirely absorbed in the fate of the Revolu- 
tion and of her beloved peasantry. She gave no 
thought to herself, but she was eager to have the 
world and the international proletariat learn the 
true condition of affairs in Bolshevik Russia. 

Of all the opponents of the Bolsheviki I had 
met Maria Spiridonova impressed me as one of 
the most sincere, well-poised, and convincing. 
Her heroic past and her refusal to compromise 
her revolutionary ideas under Tsarism as well as 
under Bolshevism were sufficient guarantee of 
her revolutionary integrity. 



A FEW days before our Expedition started 
for the Ukraine the opportunity pre- 
sented itself to pay another visit to Peter 
Kropotkin. I was delighted at the chance to 
see the dear old man under more favourable 
conditions than I had seen him in March. I 
expected at least that we would not be handi- 
capped by the presence of newspaper men as we 
were on the previous occasion. 

On my first visit, in snow-clad March, I 
arrived at the Kropotkin cottage late in the 
evening. The place looked deserted and deso- 
late. But now it was summer time. The 
country was fresh and fragrant; the garden at 
the back of the house, clad in green, smiled 
cheerfully, the golden rays of the sun spreading 
warmth and light. Peter, who was having his 
afternoon nap, could not be seen, but Sofya 
Grigorievna, his wife, was there to greet us. 
We had brought some provisions given to Sasha 



Kropotkin for her father, and several baskets of 
things sent by an Anarchist group. While we 
were unpacking those treasures Peter Alekseye- 
vitch surprised us. He seemed a changed man: 
the summer had wrought a miracle in him. He 
appeared healthier, stronger, more alive than 
when I had last seen him. He immediately 
took us to the vegetable garden which was almost 
entirely Sofya's own work and served as the 
main support of the family. Peter was very 
proud of it. "What do you say to this!" he 
exclaimed; "all Sofya's labour. And see this 
new species of lettuce" pointing at a huge 
head. He looked young; he was almost gay, his 
conversation sparkling. His power of observa- 
tion, his keen sense of humour and generous 
humanity were so refreshing, he made one forget 
the misery of Russia, one's own conflicts and 
doubts, and the cruel reality of life. 

After dinner we gathered in Peter's study 
a small room containing an ordinary table for 
a desk, a narrow cot, a wash-stand, and shelves 
of books. I could not help making a mental 
comparison between this simple, cramped study 
of Kropotkin and the gorgeous quarters of 
Radek and Zinoviev. Peter was interested to 
know my impressions since he saw me last. I 


related td him how confused and harassed I was, 
how everything seemed to crumble beneath my 
feet. I told him that I had come to doubt 
almost everything, even the Revolution itself. 
I could not reconcile the ghastly reality with 
what the Revolution had meant to me when I 
came to Russia. Were the conditions I found 
inevitable the callous indifference to human 
life, the terrorism, the waste and agony of it all ? 
Of course, I knew revolutions could not be made 
with kid gloves. It is a stern necessity in- 
volving violence and destruction, a difficult and 
terrible process. But what I had found in 
Russia was utterly unlike revolutionary condi- 
tions, so fundamentally unlike as to be a carica- 

Peter listened attentively; then he said: 
"There is no reason whatever to lose faith. I 
consider the Russian Revolution even greater 
than the French, for it has struck deeper into the 
soul of Russia, into the hearts and minds of the 
Russian people. Time alone can demonstrate 
its full scope and depth. What you see to-day 
is only the surface, conditions artificially created 
by a governing class. You see a small political 
party which by its false theories, blunders, and 
inefficiency has demonstrated how revolutions 


must not be made/' It was unfortunate 
Kropotkin continued that so many of the 
Anarchists in Russia and the masses outside of 
Russia had been carried away by the ultra- 
revolutionary pretenses of the Bolsheviki. In 
the great upheaval it was forgotten that the 
Communists are a political party firmly adher- 
ing to the idea of a centralized State, and that as 
such they were bound to misdirect the course of 
the Revolution. The Bolsheviki were the Je- 
suits of the Socialist Church: they believed in 
the Jesuitic motto that the end justifies the 
means. Their end being political power, they 
hesitate at nothing. The means, however, have 
paralysed the energies of the masses and have 
terrorized the people. Yet without the people, 
without the direct participation of the masses 
in the reconstruction of the country, nothing 
essential could be accomplished. The Bol- 
sheviki had been carried to the top by the high 
tide of the Revolution. Once in power they 
began to stem the tide. They have been trying 
to eliminate and suppress the cultural forces of 
the country not entirely in agreement with their 
ideas and methods. They destroyed the co- 
operatives which were of utmost importance to 
the life of Russia, the great link between the 


country and the city. They created a bureauc- 
racy and officialdom which surpasses even that 
of the old regime. In the village where he lived, 
in little Dmitrov, there were more Bolshevik 
officials than ever existed there during the reign 
of the Romanovs. All those people were living 
off the masses. They were parasites on the 
social body, and Dmitrov was only a small ex- 
ample of what was going on throughout Russia. 
It was not the fault of any particular individuals: 
rather was it the State they had created, which 
discredits every revolutionary ideal, stifles all 
initiative, and sets a premium on incompetence 
and waste. It should also not be forgotten, 
Kropotkin emphasized, that the blockade and 
the continuous attacks on the Revolution by the 
interventionists had helped to strengthen the 
power of the Communist regime. Interven- 
tion and blockade were bleeding Russia to death, 
and were preventing the people from under- 
standing the real nature of the Bolshevik 

Discussing the activities and role of the 
Anarchists in the Revolution, Kropotkin said: 
"We Anarchists have talked much of revolu- 
tions, but few of us have been prepared for the 
actual work to be done during the process. I 


have indicated some things in this relation in 
my * Conquest of Bread/ Pouget and Pataud 
have also sketched a line of action in their work 
on 'How to Accomplish the Social Revolution.'" 
Kropotkin thought that the Anarchists had not 
given sufficient consideration to the funda- 
mental elements of the social revolution. The 
real facts in a revolutionary process do not 
consist so much in the actual fighting that is, 
merely the destructive phase necessary to clear 
the way for constructive effort. The basic 
factor in a revolution is the organization of the 
economic life of the country. The Russian 
Revolution had proved conclusively that we 
must prepare thoroughly for that. Everything 
else is of minor importance. He had come to 
think that syndicalism was likely to furnish 
what Russia most lacked: the channel through 
which the industrial and economic reconstruc- 
tion of the country may flow. He referred 
to Anarcho-syndicalism. That and the co- 
operatives would save other countries- some of 
the blunders and suffering Russia was going 

I left Dmitrov much comforted by the warmth 
and light which the beautiful personality of 
Peter Kropotkin radiated; and I was much 


encouraged by what I had heard from him. I 
returned to Moscow to help with the completion 
of the preparations for our journey. At last, 
on July 15, 1920, our car was coupled to a train 
bound for the Ukraine. 



OUR train was about to leave Moscow when 
we were surprised by an interesting 
visitor Krasnoschekov, the president of 
the Far Eastern Republic, who had recently 
arrived in the capital from Siberia. He had 
heard of our presence in the city, but for some 
reason he could not locate us. Finally he met 
Alexander Berkman who invited him to the 
Museum car. 

In appearance Krasnoschekov had changed 
tremendously since his Chicago days, when, 
known as Tobinson, he was superintendent of the 
Workers' Institute in that city. Then he was 
one of the many Russian emigrants on the West 
Side, active as organizer and lecturer in the 
Socialist movement. Now he looked a different 
man; his expression stern, the stamp of author- 
ity on him, he seemed even to have grown taller. 
But at heart he remained the same simple and 
kind, the Tobinson we had known in Chicago. 

1 60 


We had only a short time at our disposal and 
our visitor employed it to give us an insight into 
the conditions in the Far East and the local form 
of government. It consisted of representatives 
of various political factions and "even Anarchists 
are with us/' said Krasnoschekov; "thus, for 
instance, Shatov is Minister of Railways. We 
are independent in the East and there is free 
speech. Come over and try us, you will find a 
field for your work/' He invited Alexander 
Berkman and myself to visit him in Chita and 
we assured him that we hoped to avail ourselves 
of the invitation at some future time. He 
seemed to have brought a different atmosphere 
and we were sorry to part so soon. 

On the way from Petrograd to Moscow the 
Expedition had been busy putting its house in 
order. As already mentioned, the car consisted 
of six compartments, two of which were con- 
verted into a dining room and kitchen. They 
were of diminutive size, but we managed to make 
a presentable dining room of one, and the kitchen 
might have made many a housekeeper envy us. 
A large Russian samovar and all necessary cop- 
per and zinc pots and kettles were there, making 
a very effective appearance. We were especially 
proud of the decorative curtains on our car 


windows. The other compartments were used 
for office and sleeping quarters. I shared mine 
with our secretary, Miss A. T. Shakol. 

Besides Alexander Berkman, appointed by the 
Museum as chairman and general manager, 
Shakol as secretary, and myself as treasurer and 
housekeeper, the Expedition consisted of three 
other members, including a young Communist, 
a student of the Petrograd University. En route 
we mapped out our plan of work, each member of 
the Expedition being assigned some particular 
branch of it. I was to gather data in the De- 
partments of Education and Health, the Bureaus 
of Social Welfare and Labour Distribution, as 
well as in the organization known as Workers' 
and Peasants' Inspection. After the day's work 
all the members were to meet in the car to con- 
sider and classify the material collected during 
the day. 

Our first stop was Kursk. Nothing of im- 
portance was collected there except a pair of 
kandai [iron handcuffs] which had been worn 
by a revolutionist in Schliisselburg. It was 
donated to us by a chance passer-by who, 
noticing the inscription on our car, "Extraor- 
dinary Commission of the Museum of the 
Revolution/ 5 became interested and called to 


pay us a visit. He proved to be an intellectual, 
a Tolstoian, the manager of a children's colony. 
He succeeded in maintaining the latter by giving 
the Soviet Government a certain amount of 
labour required of him: three days a week he 
taught in the Soviet schools of Kursk. The 
rest of his time he devoted to his little colony, or 
the "Children's Commune/' as he affectionately 
called it. With the help of the children and some 
adults they raised the vegetables necessary for 
the support of the colony and made all the re- 
pairs of the place. He stated that he had not 
been directly interfered with by the Govern- 
ment, but that his work was considerably handi- 
capped by discrimination against him as a 
pacifist and Tolstoian. He feared that because 
of it his place could not be continued much 
longer. There was no trading of any sort in 
Kursk at the time, and one had to depend for 
supplies on the local authorities. But dis- 
crimination and antagonism manifested them- 
selves against independent initiative and effort. 
The Tolstoian, however, was determined to make 
a fight, spiritually speaking, for the life of his 
colony. He was planning to go to the centre, 
to Moscow, where he hoped to get support in 
favour of his commune. 


The personality of the man, his eagerness to 
make himself useful, did not correspond with the 
information I had received from Communists 
about the intelligentsia, their indifference and 
unwillingness to help revolutionary Russia. I 
broached the subject to our visitor. He could 
only speak of the professional men and women of 
Kursk, his native city, but he assured us that he 
found most of them, and especially the teachers, 
eager to cooperate and even self-sacrificing. But 
they were the most neglected class, living in 
semi-starvation all the time. Like himself, they 
were exposed to general antagonism, even on the 
part of the children whose minds had been 
poisoned by agitation against the intelligentsia. 

Kursk is a large industrial centre and I was 
interested in the fate of the workers there. We 
learned from our visitor that there had been 
repeated skirmishes between the workers and 
the Soviet authorities. A short time before our 
arrival a strike had broken out and soldiers 
were sent to quell it. The usual arrests followed 
and many workers were still in the Tcheka. 
This state of affairs, the Tolstoian thought, was 
due to general Communist incompetence rather 
than to any other cause. People were placed 
in responsible positions not because of their fit- 


ness but owing to their party membership. 
Political usefulness was the first consideration 
and it naturally resulted in general abuse of 
power and confusion. The Communist dogma 
that the end justifies all means was also doing 
much harm. It had thrown the door wide open 
to the worst human passions, and discredited the 
ideals of the Revolution. The Tolstoian spoke 
sadly, as one speaks of a hope cherished and 
loved, and lost. 

The next morning our visitor donated to our 
collection the kandali he had worn for many 
years in prison. He hoped that we might re- 
turn by way of Kursk so that we could pay a 
visit to some Tolstoian communes in the environs 
of the city. Not far from Yasnaya Polyana 
there lived an old peasant friend of Tolstoi, he 
told us. He had much valuable material that 
he might contribute to the Museum. Our 
visitor remained to the moment of our departure; 
he was starved for intellectual companionship 
and was loath to see us go. 



ARRIVING in Kharkov, I visited the An- 
archist book store, the address of which 
I had secured in Moscow. There I met 
many friends whom I had known in America. 
Among them were Joseph and Leah Goodman, 
formerly from Detroit; Fanny Baron, from 
Chicago, and Sam Fleshin who had worked in 
the Mother Earth office in New York, in 1917, 
before he left for Russia. With thousands of 
other exiles they had all hastened to their native 
country at the first news of the Revolution, 
and they had been in the thick of it ever since. 
They would have much to tell me, I thought; 
they might help me to solve some of the prob- 
lems that were perplexing me. 

Kharkov lay several miles away from the rail- 
road station, and it would have therefore been 
impractical to continue living in the car during 
our stay in the city. The Museum credentials 
would secure quarters for us, but several mem- 



bers of the Expedition preferred to stay with 
their American friends. Through the help of 
one of our comrades, who was commandant of 
an apartment house, I secured a room. 

It had been quite warm in Moscow, but 
Kharkov proved a veritable furnace, reminding 
me of New York in July. Sanitary and plumb- 
ing arrangements had been neglected or de- 
stroyed, and water had to be carried from a place 
several blocks distant up three flights of stairs. 
Still it was a comfort to have a private room. 

The city was alive. The streets were full of 
people and they looked better fed and dressed 
than the population of Petrograd and Moscow. 
The women were handsomer than in northern 
Russia; the men of a finer type. It was rather 
odd to see beautiful women, wearing evening 
g6wns in the daytime, walk about barefoot or 
clad in wooden sandals without stockings. The 
coloured kerchiefs most of them had on lent life 
and colour to the streets, giving them a cheerful 
appearance which contrasted favourably with 
the gray tones of Petrograd. 

My first official visit was paid to the Depart- 
ment of Education. I found a long line of people 
waiting admission, but the Museum credentials 
immediately opened the doors, the chairman 


receiving me most cordially. He listened at- 
tentively to my explanation of the purposes of 
the Expedition and promised to give me an op- 
portunity to collect all the available material in 
his department, including the newly prepared 
charts of its work. On the chairman's desk I 
noticed a copy of such a chart, looking like a 
futurist picture, all lined and dotted with red, 
blue, and purple. Noticing my puzzled expres- 
sion the chairman explained that the red in- 
dicated the various phases of the educational 
system, the other colours representing literature, 
drama, music, and the plastic arts. Each de- 
partment was subdivided into bureaus embracing 
every branch of the educational and cultural work 
of the Socialist Republic. 

Concerning the system of education the chair- 
man stated that from three to eight years of age 
the child attended the kindergarten or children's 
home. War orphans from the south, children of 
Red Army soldiers and of proletarians in general 
received preference. If vacancies remained, 
children of the bourgeoisie were also accepted. 
From eight to thirteen the children attended the 
intermediary schools where they received elemen- 
tary education which inculcates the general idea 
of the political and economic structure of R.S.F. 


S.R. Modern methods of instruction by means 
of technical apparatus, so far as the latter could 
be secured, had been introduced. The children 
were taught processes of production as well as 
natural sciences. The period from twelve to 
seventeen embraced vocational training. There 
were also higher institutions of learning for young 
people who showed special ability and inclina- 
tion. Besides this, summer schools and colonies 
had been established where instruction was given 
in the open. All children belonging to the 
Soviet Republic were fed, clothed, and housed at 
the expense of the Government. The scheme of 
education also embraced workers' colleges and 
evening courses for adults of both sexes. Here 
also everything was supplied to the pupils free, 
even special rations. For further particulars 
the chairman referred me to the literature of his 
department and advised me to study the plan in 
operation. The educational work was much 
handicapped by the blockade and counter- 
revolutionary attempts; else Russia would dem- 
onstrate to the world what the Socialist Re- 
public could do in the way of popular enlighten- 
ment. They lacked even the most elemental 
necessaries, such as paper, pencils, and books. 
In the winter most of the schools had to be closed 


for lack of fuel. The cruelty and infamy of the 
blockade was nowhere more apparent and crying 
than in its effect upon the sick and the children. 
"It is the blackest crime of the century," the 
chairman concluded. It was agreed that I 
return within a week to receive the material for 
our collection. In the Social Welfare Department 
I also found a very competent man in charge. He 
became much interested in the work of the Expedi- 
tion and promised to collect the necessary ma- 
terial for us, though he could not offer very much 
because his department had but recently been 
organized. Its work was to look after the 
disabled and sick proletarians and those of old 
age exempt from labour. They were given cer- 
tain rations in food and clothing; in case they 
were employed they received also a certain 
amount of money, about half of their earnings. 
Besides that the Department was supporting 
living quarters and dining rooms for its charges. 
In the corridor leading to the various offices of 
the Department there were lines of emaciated 
and crippled figures, men and women, waiting 
for their turn to receive aid. They looked like 
war veterans awaiting their pittance in the form 
of rations; they reminded me of the decrepit 
unemployed standing in line in the Salvation 


Army quarters in America. One woman in 
particular attracted my attention. She was 
angry and excited and she complained loudly. 
Her husband had been dead two days and she 
was trying to obtain a permit for a coffin. She 
had ^een in line ever since but could procure no 
order. "What am I to do?" she wailed; "I can- 
not carry him on my own back or bury him with- 
out a coffin, and I cannot keep him in my room 
much longer in this heat." The woman's lament 
remained unanswered for everyone was absorbed 
in his own troubles. Sick and disabled workers 
are thrown everywhere on the scrap pile I 
thought but in Russia an effort is being made to 
prevent such cruelty. Yet judging from what I 
saw in Kharkov I felt that not much was being 
accomplished. It was a most depressing picture, 
that long waiting line. I felt as if it was adding 
insult to injury. 

I visited a house where the social derelicts 
lived. It was fairly well kept, but breathing the 
spi"* ; of cold institutionalising It was, of course, 
better than sleeping in the streets or lying all 
night in the doorways, as the sick and poor are 
often compelled to do in capitalist countries, in 
America, for instance. Still it seemed incongru- 
ous that something more cheerful and inviting 


could not be devised in Soviet Russia for those 
who had sacrificed their health and had given 
their labour to the common good. But ap- 
parently it was the best that the Social Welfare 
Department could do in the present condition 
of Russia. 

In the evening our American friends visited 
us. Each of them had a rich experience of strug- 
gle, suffering, and persecution and I was sur- 
prised to learn that most of them had also been 
imprisoned by the Bolsheviki. They had en- 
dured much for the sake of their ideas and had 
been hounded by every government of Ukraina, 
there having been fourteen political changes in 
some parts of the south during the last two years. 
The Communists were no different: they also 
persecuted the Anarchists as well as other revo- 
lutionists of the Left. Still the Anarchists 
continued their work. Their faith in the Revo- 
lution, in spite of all they endured, and even in 
the face of the worst reaction, was truly sublime. 
They agreed that the possibilities of the masses 
during the first months after the October Revo- 
lution were very great, but expressed the opin- 
ion that revolutionary development had been 
checked, and gradually entirely paralysed, by 
the deadening effect of the Communist State. 


In the Ukraina, they explained, the situation 
differed from that of Russia, because the 
peasants lived in comparatively better material 
conditions. They had also retained greater 
independence and more of a rebellious spirit. 
For these reasons the Bolsheviki had failed to 
subdue the south. 

Our visitors spoke of Makhno as a heroic 
popular figure, and related his daring exploits 
and the legends the peasants had woven about 
his personality. There was considerable dif- 
ference of opinion, however, among the Anar- 
chists concerning the significance of the Makhno 
movement. Some regarded it as expressive of 
Anarchism and believed that the Anarchists 
should devote all their energies to it. Others 
held that the povstantsi represented the native 
rebellious spirit of the southern peasants, but 
that their movement was not Anarchism, though 
anarchist ically tinged. They were not in favour 
of limiting themselves to that movement; they 
believed their work should be of a more embrac- 
ing and universal character. Several of our 
friends took an entirely different position, 
denying to the Makhno movement any anar- 
chistic meaning whatever. 

Most enthusiastic about Makhno and em- 


phatic about the Anarchist value of that move- 
ment was Joseph, known as the "Emigrant" 
the very last man one would have expected to 
wax warm over a military organization. Joseph 
was as mild and gentle as a girl. In America 
he had participated in the Anarchist and Labour 
movements in a quiet and unassuming manner, 
and very few knew the true worth of the man. 
Since his return to Russia he had been in the 
thick of the struggle. He had spent much time 
with Makhno and had learned to love and ad- 
mire him for his revolutionary devotion and 
courage. Joseph related an interesting expe- 
rience of his first visit to the peasant leader. 
When he arrived the povstantsi for some reason 
conceived the notion that he had come to harm 
their chief. One of Makhno's closest friends 
claimed that Joseph, being a Jew, must also be an 
emissary of the Bolsheviki sent to kill Makhno. 
When he saw how attached Makhno became to 
Joseph, he decided to kill "the Jew." Fortu- 
nately he first warned his leader, whereupon 
Makhno called his men together and addressed 
them somewhat in this manner: " Joseph is a 
Jew and an idealist; he is an Anarchist. I con- 
sider him my comrade and friend and I shall hold 
everyone responsible for his safety." Idolized 


by his army, Makhno's word was enough: 
Joseph became the trusted friend of the povstan- 
tsi. They believed in him because their batka 
[father] had faith in him, and Joseph in return 
became deeply devoted to them. Now he in- 
sisted that he must return to the rebel camp: 
they were heroic people, simple, brave, and 
devoted to the cause of liberty. He was plan- 
ning to join Makhno again. Yet I could not free 
myself of the feeling that if Joseph went back 
I should never see him alive any more. He 
seemed to me like one of those characters in 
Zola's "Germinal" who loves every living thing 
and yet is able to resort to dynamite for the sake 
of the striking miners. 

I expressed the view to my friends that, im- 
portant as the Makhno movement might be, it 
was of a purely military nature and could not, 
therefore, be expressive of the Anarchist spirit. 
I was sorry to see Joseph return to the Makhno 
camp, for his work for the Anarchist movement 
in Russia could be of much greater value. But 
he was determined, and I felt that it was Joseph's 
despair at the reactionary tendencies of the 
Bolsheviki which drove him, as it did so many 
others of his comrades, away from the Com- 
munists and into the ranks of Makhno. 


During our stay in Kharkov I also visited the 
Department of Labour Distribution, which had 
come into existence since the militarization of 
labour. According to the Bolsheviki it became 
necessary then to return the workers from the 
villages to which they had streamed from the 
starving cities. They had to be registered and 
classified according to trades and distributed to 
points where their services were most needed. 
In the carrying out of this plan many people 
were daily rounded up on the streets and in the 
market place. Together with the large num- 
bers arrested as speculators or for possession of 
Tsarist money, they were put on the list of the 
Labour Distribution Department. Some were 
sent to the Donetz Basin, while the weaker ones 
went on to concentration camps. The Com- 
munists justified this system and method as 
necessary during a revolutionary period in order 
to build up the industries. Everybody must 
work in Russia, they said, or be forced to work. 
They claimed fhat the industrial output had 
increased since the introduction of the compul- 
sory labour law. 

I had occasion to discuss these matters with 
many Communists and I doubted the efficacy 
of the new policy. 


One evening a woman called at my room and 
introduced herself as the former owner of the 
apartment. Since all the houses had been na- 
tionalized she was allowed to keep three rooms, 
the rest of her apartment having been put in 
charge of the House Bureau. Her family con- 
sisted of eight members, including her parents 
and a married daughter with her family. It 
was almost impossible to crowd all into three 
rooms, especially considering the terrific heat of 
the Kharkov summer; yet somehow they had 
managed. But two weeks prior to our arrival 
in Kharkov Zinoviev visited the city. At a 
public meeting he declared that the bourgeoisie 
of the city looked too well fed and dressed. 
"It proves," he said, "that the comrades and 
especially the Tcheka are neglecting their duty." 
No sooner had Zinoviev departed than wholesale 
arrests and night raids began. Confiscation 
became the order of the day. Her apartment, 
the woman related, had also been visited and 
most of her effects taken away. % But worst of all 
was that the Tcheka ordered her to vacate one 
of the rooms, and now the whole family was 
crowded into two small rooms. She was much 
worried lest a member of the Tcheka or a Red 
Army man be assigned to the vacant room. 


"We felt much relieved," she said, "when we 
jvere informed that someone from America was 
to occupy this room. We wish you would re- 
main here for a long time/' 

Till then I had not come in personal contact 
with the members of the expropriated bourgeoisie 
who had actually been made to suffer by the 
Revolution. The few middle-class families I 
had met lived well, which was a source of sur- 
prise to me. Thus in Petrograd a certain chem- 
ist I had become acquainted with in Shatov's 
house lived in a very expensive way. The 
Soviet authorities permitted him to operate his 
factory, and he supplied the Government with 
chemicals at a cost much less than the Govern- 
ment could manufacture them at. He paid his 
workers comparatively high wages and provided 
them with rations. On a certain occasion I 
was invited to dinner by the chemist's family. 
I found them living in a luxurious apartment f 
containing many valuable objects and art 
treasures. My hostess, the chemist's wife, was 
expensively gowned and wore a costly necklace. 
Dinner consisted of several courses and was 
served in an extravagant manner with ex- 
quisite damask linen in abundance. It must 
have cost several hundred thousand rubles, 


which in 1920 was a small fortune in Russia. 
The astonishing thing to me was that almost 
everybody in Petrograd knew the chemist and 
was familiar with his mode of life. But I was 
informed that he was needed by the Soviet 
Government and that he was therefore permitted 
to live as he pleased. Once I expressed my sur- 
prise to him that the Bolsheviki had not confis- 
cated his wealth. He assured me that he was not 
the only one of the bourgeoisie who had retained 
his former condition. "The bourgeoisie is by no 
means dead/' he said; "it has only been chloro- 
formed for a while, so to speak, for the painful 
operation. But it is already recovering from the 
effect of the anesthetic and soon it will have recu- 
perated entirely. It only needs a little more time." 
The woman who visited me in the Kharkov room 
had not managed so well as the Petrogiad chem- 
ist. She was a part of the wreckage left by the 
revolutionary storm that had swept over Russia. 
During my stay in the Ukrainian capital I met 
some interesting people of the professional 
classes, among them an engineer who had just 
returned from the Donetz Basin and a woman 
employed in a Soviet Bureau. Both were cul- 
tured persons and keenly alive to the fate of 
Russia. We discussed the Zinoviev visit. They 


corroborated the story told me before. Zin- 
oviev had upbraided his comrades for their 
laxity toward the bourgeoisie and criticized 
them for not suppressing trade. Immediately 
upon Zinoviev's departure the Tcheka began 
indiscriminate raids, the members of the bour- 
geoisie losing on that occasion almost the last 
things they possessed. The most tragic part of 
it, according to the engineer, was that the work- 
ers did not benefit by such raids. No one knew 
what became of the things confiscated they 
just disappeared. Both the engineer and the 
woman Soviet employee spoke with much con- 
cern about the general disintegration of ideas. 
The Russians once believed, the woman said, 
that hovels and palaces were equally wrong 
and should be abolished. It never occurred to 
them that the purpose of a revolution is merely 
to cause a transfer of possessions to put the 
rich into the hovels and the poor into the palaces. 
It was not true that the workers have gotten 
into the palaces. They were only made to be- 
lieve that that is the function of a revolution. 
In reality, the masses remained where they had 
been before. But now they were not alone 
there: they were in the company of the classes 
they meant to destroy. 


The civil engineer had been sent by the Soviet 
Government to the Donetz Basin to build homes 
for the workers, and I was glad of the opportun- 
ity to learn from him about the conditions there. 
The Communist press was publishing glowing 
accounts about the intensive coal production of 
the Basin, and official calculations claimed that 
the country would be provided with sufficient 
coal for the approaching winter. In reality, the 
Donetz mines were in a most deplorable state, 
the engineer informed me. The miners were 
herded like cattle. They received abominable 
rations, were almost barefoot, and were forced 
to work standing in water up to their ankles. 
As a result of such conditions very little coal 
was being produced. "I was one of a committee 
ordered to investigate the situation and report 
our findings/ 5 said the engineer. "Our report is 
far from favourable. We know that it is danger- 
ous to relate the facts as we found them: it may 
land us in the Tcheka. But we decided that 
'Moscow must face the facts. The system of 
political Commissars, general Bolshevik inef- 
ficiency, and the paralysing effect of the State 
machinery have made our constructive work in 
the Basin almost impossible. It was a dismal 


Could such a condition of affairs be avoided 
in a revolutionary period and in a country so 
little developed industrially as Russia ? I ques- 
tioned. The Revolution was being attacked 
by the bourgeoisie within and without; there was 
compelling need of defence and no energies 
remained for constructive work. The engi- 
neer scorned my viewpoint. The Russian bour- 
geoisie was weak and could offer practically no 
resistance, he claimed. It was numerically 
insignificant and it suffered from a sick con- 
science. There was neither need nor justi- 
fication for Bolshevik terrorism and it was 
mainly the latter that paralysed the constructive 
efforts. Middle-class intellectuals had been 
active for many years in the liberal and revolu- 
tionary movements of Russia, and thus the 
members of the bourgeoisie had become closer 
to the masses. When the great day arrived the 
bourgeoisie, caught unawares, preferred to give 
up rather than to put up a fight. It was stun- 
ned by the Revolution more than any other class 
in Russia. It was quite unprepared and has 
not gotten its bearings even to this day. It was 
not true, as the Bolsheviki claimed, that the 
Russian bourgeoisie was an active menace to the 


I had been advised to see the Chief of the De- 
partment of Workers' and Peasants' Inspection, 
the position being held by a woman, formerly an 
officer of the Tcheka, reputed to be very severe, 
even cruel, but efficient. She could supply me 
with much valuable material, I was told, and 
give me entrance to the prisons and concentra- 
tion camps. On my visiting the Workers' and 
Peasants' Inspection offices I found the lady in 
charge not at all cordial at first. She ignored 
my credentials, apparently not impressed by 
Zinoviev's signature. Presently a man stepped 
out from an inner office. He proved to be 
Dibenko, a high Red Army officer, and he in- 
formed me that he had heard of me from Alexan- 
dra Kollontay, whom he referred to as his wife. 
He promised that I should get all available ma- 
terial and asked me to return later in the day. 
When I called again I found the lady much more 
amiable and willing to give me information about 
the activities of her department. It appeared 
that the latter had been organized to fight grow- 
ing sabotage and graft. It was part of the duties 
of the Tcheka, but it was found necessary to 
create the new department for the inspection 
and correction of abuses. "It is the tribunal 
to which cases may be appealed," said the 


woman; "just now, for instance, we are in- 
vestigating complaints of prisoners who had 
been wrongly convicted or received excessive 
sentences." She promised to secure for us per- 
mission to inspect the penal institutions and 
several days later several members of the Expedi- 
tion were given the opportunity. 

First we visited the main concentration camp 
of Kharkov. We found a number of prisoners 
working in the yard, digging a new sewer. It 
was certainly needed, for the whole place was 
filled with nauseating smells. The prison build- 
ing was divided into a number of rooms, all of 
them overcrowded. One of the compartments 
was called the "speculators' apartment/' though 
almost all its inmates protested against being 
thus classed. They looked poor and starved, 
everyone of them anxious to tell us his tale of 
woe, apparently under the impression that we 
were official investigators. In one of the corri- 
dors we found several Communists charged with 
sabotage. Evidently the Soviet Government 
did not discriminate in favour of its own people. 

There were in the camp White officers taken 
prisoners at the Polish front, and scores of 
peasant men and women held on various charges. 
They presented a pitiful sight, sitting there on 


the floor for lack of benches, a pathetic lot, be- 
wildered and unable to grasp the combination 
of events which had caught them in the net. 

More than one thousand able-bodied men were 
locked up in the concentration camp, of no serv- 
ice to the community and requiring numerous 
officials to guard and attend them. And yet 
Russia was badly in need of labour energy. It 
seemed to me an impractical waste. 

Later we visited the prison. At the gates an 
angry mob was gesticulating and shouting. I 
learned that the weekly parcels brought by rela- 
tives of the inmates had that morning been re- 
fused acceptance by the prison authorities. 
Some of the people had come for miles and 
had spent their last ruble for food for their ar- 
rested husbands and brothers. They were fran- 
tic. Our escort, the woman in charge of the 
Bureau, promised to investigate the matter. 
We made the rounds of the big prison a depress- 
ing sight of human misery and despair. In the 
solitary were those condemned to death. For 
days their look haunted me their eyes full of 
terror at the torturing uncertainty, fearing to be 
called at any moment to face death. 

We had been asked by our Kharkov friends to 
find a certain young woman in the prison. Try- 


ing to avoid arousing attention we sought her 
with our eyes in various parts of the institution, 
till we saw someone answering her description. 
She was an Anarchist, held as a political. The 
prison conditions were bad, she told us. It had 
required a protracted hunger strike to compel 
the authorities to treat the politicals more de- 
cently and to keep the doors of those condemned 
to death open during the day, so that they could 
receive a little cheer and comfort from the other 
prisoners. She told of many unjustly arrested 
and pointed out an old stupid-looking peasant 
woman locked up in solitary as a Makhno spy, 
a charge obviously due to a misunderstanding. 

The prison regime was very rigid. Among 
other things, it was forbidden the prisoners to 
climb up on the windows or to look out into the 
yard. The story was related to us of a prisoner 
being shot for once disobeying that rule. He 
had heard some noise in the street below and, 
curious to know what was going on, he climbed 
up on the window sill of his cell. The sentry 
in the yard gave no warning. He fired, severely 
wounding the man. Many similar stories of 
severity and abuse we heard from the prisoners. 
On our way to town I expressed surprise at the 
conditions that were being tolerated in the 


prisons. I remarked to our guide that it would 
cause a serious scandal if the western world were 
to learn under what conditions prisoners live and 
how they are treated in Socialist Russia. Noth- 
ing could justify such brutality, I thought. But 
the chairman of the Workers' and Peasants' 
Inspection remained unmoved. "We are living 
in a revolutionary period/' she replied; "these 
matters cannot be helped." But she promised 
to investigate some cases of extreme injustice 
which we had pointed out to her. I was not 
convinced that the Revolution was responsible 
for the existing evils. If the Revolution really 
had to support so much brutality and crime, 
what was the purpose of the Revolution, after 

At the end of our first week in Kharkov I re- 
turned to the Department of Education where I 
had been promised material. To my surprise 
I found that nothing had been prepared. I was 
informed that the chairman was absent, and 
again assured that the promised data would be 
collected and ready before our departure. I was 
then referred to the man in charge of a certain 
school experimental department. The chair- 
man had told me that some interesting educa- 
tional methods were being developed, but I 


found the manager unintelligent and dull. He 
could tell me nothing of the new methods, but 
he was willing to send for one of the instructors 
to explain things to me. A messenger was 
dispatched, but he soon returned with the 
information that the teacher was busy demon- 
strating to his class and could not come. The 
manager flew into a rage. "He must come/' 
he shouted; "the bourgeoisie are sabotaging like 
the other damnable intelligentsia. They ought 
all to be shot. We can do very well without 
them/ 5 He was one of the type of narrow- 
minded fanatical and persecuting Communists 
who did more harm to the Revolution than any 

During our stay in Kharkov we also had time 
to visit some factories. In a plough manufac- 
turing plant we found a large loft stacked with 
the finished product. I was surprised that the 
ploughs were kept in the factory instead of being 
put to practical use on the farms. "We are 
awaiting orders from Moscow/ the manager 
explained; "it was a rush order and we were 
threatened with arrest for sabotage in case it 
should not be ready for shipment within six 
weeks. That was six months ago, and as you 
see the ploughs are still here. > The peasants 


need them badly, and we need their bread. But 
we cannot exchange. We must await orders from 

I recalled a remark of Zinoviev when on our 
first meeting he stated that Petrograd lacked 
fuel, notwithstanding the fact that less than a 
hundred versts from the city there was enough 
to supply almost half the country. I suggested 
on that occasion that the workers of Petrograd 
be called upon to get the fuel to the city. Zino- 
viev thought it very naive. "Should we grant 
such a thing in Petrograd/ 5 he said, "the same 
demand would be made in other cities. It 
would create communal competition which is a 
bourgeois institution. It would interfere with 
our plan of nationalized and centralized con- 
trol." That was the dominating principle, and 
as a result of it the Kharkov workers lacked 
bread until Moscow should give orders to have 
the ploughs sent to the peasants. The suprem- 
acy of the State was the cornerstone of Marx- 

Several days before leaving Kharkov I once 
more visited the Board of Education and again 
I failed to find its chairman. To my consterna- 
tion I was informed that I would receive no 
material because it had been decided that 


Ukraina was to have its own museum and the 
chairman had gone to Kiev to organize it. I 
felt indignant at the miserable deception prac- 
tised upon us by a man in high Communist 
position. Surely Ukraina had the right to have 
its own museum, but why this petty fraud which 
caused the Expedition to lose so much valuable 

The sequel to this incident came a few days 
later when we were surprised by the hasty 
arrival of our secretary who informed us that we 
must leave Kharkov immediately and as quietly 
as possible, because the local executive com- 
mittee of the party had decided to prevent our 
carrying out statistical material from Ukraina. 
Accordingly, we made haste to leave in order to 
save what we had already collected. We knew 
the material would be lost if it remained in 
Kharkov and that the plan of an independent 
Ukrainian museum would for many years remain 
only on paper. 

Before departing we made arrangements for a 
last conference with our local friends. We felt 
that we might never see them again. On that 
occasion the work of the "Nabat" Federation 
was discussed in detail. That general Anarchist 
organization of the south had been founded as 


a result of the experiences of the Russian An- 
archists and the conviction that a unified body 
was necessary to make their work more effective. 
They wanted not merely to die but to live for the 
Revolution. It appeared that the Anarchists of 
Russia had been divided into several factions, 
most of them numerically small and of little 
practical influence upon the progress of events 
in Russia. They had been unable to establish 
a permanent hold in the ranks of the workers. 
It was therefore decided to gather all the An- 
archist elements of the Ukraina into one federa- 
tion and thus be in condition to present a solid 
front in the struggle not only against invasion 
and counter-revolution, but also against Com- 
munist persecution. 

By means of unified effort the "Nabat" was 
able to cover most of the south and get in close 
touch with the life of the workers and the peas- 
antry. The frequent changes of government in 
the Ukraina finally drove the Anarchists to 
cover, the relentless persecution of the Bol- 
sheviki having depleted their ranks of the most 
active workers. Still the Federation had taken 
root among the people. The little band was in 
constant danger, but it was energetically con- 
tinuing its educational and propaganda work. 


The Kharkov Anarchists had evidently ex- 
pected much from our presence in Russia. 
They hoped that Alexander Berkman and my- 
self would join them in their work. We were 
already seven months in Russia but had as yet 
taken no direct part in the Anarchist move- 
ment. I could sense the disappointment and 
impatience of our comrades. They were eager 
we should at least inform the European and 
American Anarchists of what was going on in 
Russia, particularly about the ruthless persecu- 
tion of the Left revolutionary elements. Well 
could I understand the attitude of my 
Ukrainian friends. They had suffered much dur- 
ing the last years : they had seen the high hopes 
of the Revolution crushed and Russia breaking 
down beneath the heel of the Bolshevik State. 
Yet I could not comply with their wishes. I 
still had faith in the Bolsheviki, in their revo- 
lutionary sincerity and integrity. Moreover, I 
felt that as long as Russia was being attacked 
from the outside I could not speak in criticism. 
I would not add fuel to the fires of counter- 
revolution. I therefore had to keep silent, and 
stand by the Bolsheviki as the organized de- 
fenders of the Revolution. But my Russian 
friends scorned this view. I was confounding 


the Communist Party with the Revolution, they 
said; they were not the same; on the contrary, 
they were opposed, even antagonistic. The 
Communist State, according to the "Nabat" 
Anarchists, had proven fatal to the Revolution. 

Within a few hours before our departure we 
received the confidential information that Mak- 
hno had sent a call for Alexander Berkman and 
myself to visit him. He wished to place his 
situation before us, and, through us, before the 
Anarchist movement of the world. He desired 
to have it widely understood that he was not the 
bandit, Jew-baiter, and counter-revolutionist 
the Bolsheviki had proclaimed him. He was 
devoted to the Revolution and was serving the 
interests of the people as he conceived them. 

It was a great temptation to meet the modern 
Stenka Rasin, but we were pledged to the 
Museum and could not break faith with the 
other members of the Expedition. 



IN THE general dislocation of life in Russia 
and the breaking down of her economic 
machinery the railroad system had suffered 
most. The subject was discussed in almost 
every meeting and every Soviet paper often 
wrote about it. Between Petrograd and Mos- 
cow, however, the real state of affairs was not so 
noticeable, though the main stations were always 
overcrowded and the people waited for days 
trying to secure places. Still, trains between 
Petrograd and Moscow ran fairly regularly. 
If one was fortunate enough to procure the 
necessary permission to travel, and a ticket, 
one could manage to make the journey without 
particular danger to life or limb. But the 
farther south one went the more apparent be- 
came the disorganization. Broken cars dotted 
the landscape, disabled engines lay along the 
route, and frequently the tracks were torn up. 
Everywhere in the Ukraina the stations were 



filled to suffocation, the people making a wild 
rush whenever a train was sighted. Most of 
them remained for weeks on the platforms before 
succeeding in getting into a train. The steps 
and even the roofs of the cars were crowded by 
men and women loaded with bundles and bags. 
At every station there was a savage scramble for 
a bit of space. Soldiers drove the passengers 
off 'the steps and the roofs, and often they had 
to resort to arms. Yet so desperate were the 
people and so determined to get to some place 
where there was hope of securing a little food, 
that they seemed indifferent to arrest and 
risked their lives continuously in this mode of 
travel As a result of this situation there were 
numberless accidents, scores of travellers being 
often swept to their death by low bridges. 
These sights had become so common that prac- 
tically no attention was paid to them. Travel- 
ling southward and on our return we frequently 
witnessed these scenes. Constantly the me- 
shotchniki [people with bags] mobbed the cars 
in search of food, or when returning laden with 
their precious burden of flour and potatoes. 

Day and night the terrible scenes kept repeat- 
ing themselves at every station. It was be- 
coming a torture to travel in our well-equipped 


car. It contained only six persons, leaving 
considerable room for more; yet we were for- 
bidden to share it with others. It was not only 
because of the danger of infection or of insects 
but because the Museum effects and the material 
collected would have surely vanished had we 
allowed strangers on board. We sought to salve 
our conscience by permitting women and children 
or cripples to travel on the rear platform of our 
car, though even that was contrary to orders. 

Another feature which caused us considerable 
annoyance was the inscription on our car, which 
read : Extraordinary Commission of the Museum 
of the Revolution. Our friends at the Museum 
had assured us that the "title" would help us 
to secure attention at the stations and would also 
be effective in getting our car attached to such 
trains as we needed. But already the first few 
days proved that the inscription roused popular 
feeling against us. The name "Extraordinary 
Commission" signified to the people the Tcheka. 
They paid no attention to the other words, being 
terrorized by the first. Early in the journey 
we noticed the sinister looks that met us at the 
stations and the unwillingness of the people to 
enter into friendly conversation. Presently it 
dawned on us what was wrong; but it reauired 


considerable effort to explain the misunder- 
standing. Once put at his ease, the simple 
Russian opened up his heart to us. A kind 
word, a solicitous inquiry, a cigarette, changed his 
attitude. Especially when assured that we were 
not Communists and that we had come from 
America, the people along the route would 
soften and become more talkative, sometimes 
even confidential. They were unsophisticated 
and primitive, often crude. But illiterate and 
undeveloped as they were, these plain folk were 
clear about their needs. They were unspoiled 
and possessed of a deep faith in elementary 
justice and equality. I was often moved almost 
to tears by these Russian peasant men and 
women clinging to the steps of the moving train, 
every moment in danger of their lives, yet re- 
maining good-humoured and indifferent to their 
miserable condition. They would exchange 
stories of their lives or sometimes break out in 
the melodious, sad songs of the south. At the 
stations, while the train waited for an engine, 
the peasants would gather into groups, form a 
large circle, and then someone would begin to 
play the accordion, the bystanders accompanying 
with song. It was strange to see these hungry 
and ragged peasants, huge loads on their backs. 


standing about entirely forgetful of their en- 
vironment, pouring their hearts out in folk songs. 
A peculiar people, these Russians, saint and 
devil in one, manifesting the highest as well as the 
most brutal impulses, capable of almost any- 
thing except sustained effort. I have often 
wondered whether this lack did not to some 
extent explain the disorganization of the coun- 
try and the tragic condition of the Revolution. 

We reached Poltava in the morning. The 
city looked cheerful in the bright sunlight, the 
streets lined with trees, with little garden patches 
between them. Vegetables in great variety 
were growing on them, and it was refreshing to 
note that no fences were about and still the 
vegetables were safe, which would surely not 
have been the case in Petrograd or Moscow. 
Apparently there was not so much hunger in this 
city as in the north. 

Together with the Expedition Secretary I 
visited the government headquarters. Instead 
of the usual Ispolkom [Executive Committee 
of the Soviet] Poltava was ruled by a revolu- 
tionary committee known as the Revkom. This 
indicated that the Bolsheviki had not yet had 
time to organize a Soviet in the city. We suc- 
ceeded in getting the chairman of the Revkom 


interested in the purpose of our journey and he 
promised to cooperate and to issue an order to 
the various departments that material be col- 
lected and prepared for us. Our gracious recep- 
tion augured good returns. 

In the Bureau for the Care of Mothers and 
Infants I met two very interesting women one 
the daughter of the great Russian writer, 
Korolenko, the other the former chairman of the 
Save-the-Children Society. Learning of the 
purpose of my presence in Poltava the women 
offered their aid and invited me to visit their 
school and the near-by home of Korolenko. 

The school was located in a small house set 
deep in a beautiful garden, the place hardly 
visible from the street. The reception room 
contained a rich collection of dolls of every 
variety. There were handsome Ukrainian las- 
sies, competing in colourful dress and headgear 
with their beautiful sisters from the Caucasus; 
dashing Cossacks from the Don looked proudly 
at their less graceful brothers from the Volga. 
There were dolls of every description, represent- 
ing local costumes of almost every part of 
Russia. The collection also contained various 
toys, the handwork of the villages, and beauti- 
ful designs of the kustarny manufacture, rep- 


resenting groups of children in Russian and 
Siberian peasant attire. 

The ladies of the house related the story of 
the Save-the-Children Society. The organiza- 
tion in existence, for a number of years, was of 
very limited scope until the February Revolution. 
Then new elements, mainly of revolutionary 
type, joined the society. They strove to ex- 
tend its work and to provide not only for the 
physical well-being of the children but also to 
educate them, teach them to love work and 
develop their appreciation of beauty. Toys 
and dolls, made chiefly of waste material, were 
exhibited and the proceeds applied to the needs 
of the children. After the October Revolution, 
when the Bolsheviki possessed themselves of 
Poltava, the society was repeatedly raided and 
some of the instructors arrested on suspicion 
that the institution was a counter-revolutionary 
nest. The small band which remained went 
on, however, with their efforts on behalf of the 
children. They succeeded in sending a delega- 
tion to Lunacharsky to appeal for permission to 
carry on their work. Lunacharsky proved sym- 
pathetic, issued the requested document, and even 
provided them with a letter to the local authori- 
ties, pointing out the importance of their labours. 


But the society continued to be subjected to 
annoyance and discrimination. To avoid being 
charged with sabotage the women offered their 
services to the Poltava Department of Education. 
There they worked from nine in the morning till 
three in the afternoon, devoting their leisure time 
to their school. But the antagonism of the Com- 
munist authorities was not appeased : the society 
remained in disfavour. 

The women pointed out that the Soviet 
Government pretended to stand for self-deter- 
mination and yet every independent effort was 
being discredited and all initiative discour- 
aged, if not entirely suppressed. Not even 
the Ukrainian Communists were permitted self- 
determination. The majority of the chiefs of 
the departments were Moscow appointees, and 
Ukraina was practically deprived of opportunity 
for independent action. A bitter struggle was 
going on between the Communist Party of 
Ukraina and the Central authorities in Moscow. 
The policy of the latter was to control every- 

The women were devoted to the cause of the 
children and willing to suffer misunderstanding 
and even persecution for the sake of their in- 
terest in the welfare of their charges. Both had 


understanding for and sympathy with the 
Revolution, though they could not approve of 
the terroristic methods of the Bolsheviki. They 
were intelligent and cultured people and I felt 
their home an oasis in the desert of Communist 
thought and feeling. Before I left the ladies 
supplied me with a collection of the children's 
work and some exquisite colour drawings by 
Miss Korolenko, begging me to send the things 
to America as specimens of their labours. They 
were very eager to have the American people 
learn about their society and its efforts. 

Subsequently I had the opportunity of meet- 
ing Korolenko who was still very feeble from 
his recent illness. He looked the patriarch, 
venerable and benign; he quickly warmed one's 
heart by his melodious voice and the fine face 
that lit up when he spoke of the people. He 
referred affectionately to America and his friends 
there. But the light faded out of his eyes and 
his voice quivered with grief as he spoke of the 
great tragedy of Russia and the suffering of the 

"You want to know my views on the present 
situation and my attitude toward the Bol- 
sheviki ?" he asked. " It would take too long to 
tell you about it. I am writing to Lunacharsky 


a series of letters for which he had asked and 
which he promised to publish. The letters deal 
with this subject. Frankly speaking, I do not 
believe they will ever appear in print, but I 
shall send you a copy of the letters for the 
Museum as soon as they are complete. There 
will be six of them. I can give you two right 
now. Briefly, my opinion is summarized in a 
certain passage in one of these letters. I said 
there that if the gendarmes of the Tsar would 
have had the power not only to arrest but also 
to shoot us, the situation would have been like 
the present one. That is what is happening 
before my eyes every day. The Bolshevik! 
claim that such methods are inseparable from 
the Revolution. But I cannot agree with them 
that persecution and constant shooting will 
serve the interests of the people or of the Revolu- 
tion. It was always my conception that revolu- 
tion meant the highest expression of humanity 
and of justice. In Russia to-day both are 
absent. At a time when the fullest expression 
and cooperation of all intellectual and spiritual 
forces are necessary to reconstruct the country, 
a gag has been placed upon the whole people. 
To dare question the wisdom and efficacy of the 
so-called dictatorship of the proletariat or of the 


Communist Party leaders is considered a crime. 
We lack the simplest requisites of the real 
essence of a social revolution, and yet we pre- 
tend to have placed ourselves at the head of a 
world revolution. Poor Russia will have to 
pay dearly for this experiment. It may even 
delay for a long time fundamental changes in 
other countries. The bourgeoisie will be able to 
defend its reactionary methods by pointing to 
what has happened in Russia/' 

With heavy heart I took leave of the famous 
writer, one of the last of the great literary men 
who had been the conscience and the spiritual 
voice of intellectual Russia. Again I felt him 
uttering the cry of that part of the Russian in- 
telligentsia whose" sympathies were entirely with 
the people and whose life and work were inspired 
only by the love of their country and the interest 
for its welfare. 

In the evening I visited a relative of Koro- 
lenko, a very sympathetic old lady who was the 
chairman of the Poltava Political Red Cross. 
She told me much about things that Korolenko 
himself was too modest to mention. Old and 
feeble as he was, he was spending most of his 
time in the Tcheka, trying to save the lives of 
those innocently condemned to death. He fre- 


quently wrote letters of appeal to Lenin, Gorki, 
and Lunacharsky, begging them to intervene 
to prevent senseless executions. The present 
chairman of the Poltava Tcheka was a man re- 
lentless and cruel. His sole solution of difficult 
problems was shooting. The lady smiled sadly 
when I told her that the man had been very 
gracious to the members of our Expedition. 
"That was for show/' she said, "we know him 
better. We have daily occasion to see his 
graciousness from this balcony. Here pass the 
victims taken to slaughter. " 

Poltava is famous as a manufacturing centre 
of peasant handicrafts. Beautiful linen, em- 
broidery, laces, and basket work were among the 
products of the province's industry. I visited 
the Department of Social Economy, the sovnark- 
hoz, where I learned that those industries were 
practically suspended. Only a small collection 
remained in the Department. "We used to 
supply the whole world, even America, with our 
kustarny work," said the woman in charge, who 
had formerly been the head of the Zemstvo, 
which took special pride in fostering those peas- 
ant efforts. "Our needlework was known all 
over the country as among the finest specimens 
of art, but now it has all been destroyed. The 


peasants have lost their art impulse, they have 
become brutalized and corrupted/' She was 
bemoaning the loss of peasant art as a mother 
does that of her child. 

During our stay in Poltava we got in touch 
with representatives of various other social 
elements. The reaction of the Zionists toward 
the Bolshevik regime was particularly interesting. 
At first they refused to speak with us, evidently 
made very cautious by previous experience. It 
was also the presence of our secretary, a Gentile, 
that aroused their distrust. I arranged to meet 
some of the Zionists alone, and gradually they 
became more confidential. I had learned in 
Moscow, in connection with the arrest of the 
Zionists there, that the Bolsheviki were inclined 
to consider them counter-revolutionary. But I 
found the Poltava Zionists very simple orthodox 
Jews who certainly could not impress any one as 
conspirators or active enemies. They were 
passive, though bitter against the Bolshevik 
regime. It was claimed that the Bolsheviki 
made no pogroms and that they do not persecute 
the Jews, they said; but that was true only in a 
certain sense. There were two kinds of pogroms : 
the loud, violent ones, and the silent ones. Of the 
two the Zionists considered the former preferable. 


The violent pogrom might last a day or a week; 
the Jews are attacked and robbed, sometimes 
even murdered; and then it is over. But the 
silent pogroms continued all the time. They 
consisted of constant discrimination, persecu- 
tion, and hounding. The Bolsheviki had closed 
the Jewish hospitals and now sick Jews were 
forced to eat treife in the Gentile hospitals. 
The same applied to the Jewish children in the 
Bolshevik feeding houses. If a Jew and a 
Gentile happened to be arrested on the same 
charge, it was certain that the Gentile would go 
free while the Jew would be sent to prison and 
sometimes even shot. They were all the time 
exposed to insult and indignities, not to men- 
tion the fact that they were doomed to slow 
starvation, since all trade had been suppressed. 
The Jews in the Ukraina were suffering a con- 
tinuous silent pogrom. 

I felt that the Zionist criticism of the Bol- 
shevik regime was inspired by a narrow religious 
and nationalistic attitude. They were Orthodox 
Jews, mostly tradesmen whom the Revolution 
had deprived of their sphere of activity. Never- 
theless, their problem was real the problem of 
the Jew suffocating in the atmosphere of active 
anti-Semitism. In Poltava the leading Com- 


munist and Bolshevik officials were Gentiles. 
Their dislike of the Jews was frank and open. 
Anti-Semitism throughout the Ukraine was more 
virulent than even in pre-revolutionary days. 

After leaving Poltava we continued on our 
journey south, but we did not get farther than 
Fastov owing to the lack of engines. That 
town, once prosperous, was now impoverished 
and reduced to less than one third of its former 
population. Almost all activity was at a stand- 
still. We found the market place, in the centre 
of the town, a most insignificant affair, consist- 
ing of a few stalls having small supplies of white 
flour, sugar, and butter. There were more 
women about than men, and I was especially 
struck by the strange expression in their eyes. 
They did not look you full in the face; they 
stared past you with a dumb, hunted animal 
expression. We told the women that we had 
heard many terrible pogroms had taken place 
in Fastov and we wished to get data on the sub- 
ject to be sent to America to enlighten the people 
there on the condition of the Ukrainian Jews. 
As the news of our presence spread many 
women and children surrounded us, all much 
excited and each trying to tell her story of the 
horrors of Fastov. Fearful pogroms, they re- 


lated, had taken place in that city, the most 
terrible of them by Denikin, in September, 1919. 
It lasted eight days, during which 4,000 persons 
were killed, while several thousand died as the 
result of wounds and shock. Seven thousand 
perished from hunger and exposure on the road 
to Kiev, while trying to escape the Denikin 
savages. The greater part of the city had been 
destroyed or burned; many of the older Jews 
were trapped in the synagogue and there mur- 
dered, while others had been driven to the public 
square where they were slaughtered. Not a 
woman, yOung or old, that had not been out- 
raged, most of them in the very sight of their 
fathers, husbands, and brothers. The young 
girls, some of them mere children, had suffered 
repeated violation at the hands of the Denikin 
soldiers. I understood the dreadful look in the 
eyes of the women of Fastov. 

Men and women besieged us with appeals to 
inform their relatives in America about their 
miserable condition. Almost everyone, it 
seemed, had some kin in that country. They 
crowded into our car in the evenings, bringing 
scores of letters to be forwarded to the States. 
Some of the messages bore no addresses, the 
simple folk thinking the name sufficient. Others 


had not heard from their American kindred dur- 
ing the years of war and revolution but still 
hoped that they were to be found somewhere 
across the ocean. It was touching to see the 
people's deep faith that their relatives in America 
would save them. 

Every evening our car was filled with the un- 
fortunates of Fastov. Among them was a 
particularly interesting visitor, a former at- 
torney, who had repeatedly braved the pogrom 
makers and saved many Jewish lives. He had 
kept a diary of the pogroms and we spent a 
whole evening listening to the reading of his 
manuscript. It was a simple recital of facts 
and dates, terrible in its unadorned objectivity. 
It was the soul cry of a people continuously 
violated and tortured and living in daily fear of 
new indignities and outrages. Only one bright 
spot there was in the horrible picture: no po- 
groms had taken place under the Bolsheviki. 
The gratitude of the Fastov Jews was pathetic. 
They clung to the Communists as to a saving 
straw. It was encouraging to think that the 
Bolshevik regime was at least free from that 
worst of all Russian curses, pogroms against 



OWING to the many difficulties and delays 
the journey from Fastov to Kiev lasted 
six days and was a continuous nightmare. 
The railway situation was appalling. At every 
station scores of freight cars clogged the lines. 
Nor were they loaded with provisions to feed 
the starving cities; they were densely packed 
with human cargo among whom the sick were a 
large percentage. All along the route the wait- 
ing rooms and platforms were filled with crowds, 
bedraggled and dirty. Even more ghastly were 
the scenes at night. Everywhere masses of 
desperate people, shouting and struggling to gain 
a foothold on the train. They resembled the 
damned of Dante's Inferno, their faces ashen 
gray in the dim light, all frantically fighting for a 
place. Now and then an agonized cry would 
ring through the night and the already moving 
train would come to a halt: somebody had been 
thrown to his death under the wheels. 



It was a relief to reach Kiev. We had ex- 
pected to find the city almost in ruins, but we 
were pleasantly disappointed. When we left 
Petrograd the Soviet Press contained numerous 
stories of vandalism committed by Poles before 
evacuating Kiev. They had almost demolished 
the famous ancient cathedral in the city, the 
papers wrote, destroyed the water works and 
electric stations, and set fire to several parts of 
the city. Tchicherin and Lunacharsky issued 
passionate appeals to the cultured people of the 
world in protest against such barbarism. The 
crime of the Poles against Art was compared with 
that committed by the Germans in Rheims, 
whose celebrated cathedral had been injured by 
Prussian artillery. We were, therefore, much 
surprised to find Kiev in even better condition 
than Petrograd. In fact, the city had suffered 
very little, considering the numerous changes 
of government and the accompanying military 
operations. It is true that some bridges and 
railroad tracks had been blown up on the out- 
skirts of the city, but Kiev itself was almost un- 
harmed. People looked at us in amazement 
when we made inquiries about the condition of 
the cathedral: they had not heard the Moscow 

KIEV 213 

Unlike our welcome in Kharkov and Poltava, 
Kiev proved a disappointment. The secretary 
of the Ispolkom was not very amiable and 
appeared not at all impressed by Zinoviev's 
signature on our credentials. Our secretary suc- 
ceeded in seeing the chairman of the Executive 
Committee, but returned very discouraged : that 
high official was too impatient to listen to her 
representations. He was busy, he said, and 
could not be troubled. It was decided that I 
try my luck as an American, with the result 
that the chairman finally agreed to give us 
access to the available material. It was a sad 
reflection on the irony of life. America was in 
league with world imperialism to starve and 
crush Russia. Yet it was sufficient to mention 
that one came from America to find the key to 
everything Russian. It was pathetic, and rather 
distasteful to make use of that key. 

In Kiev antagonism to Communism was in- 
tense, even the local Bolsheviki being bitter 
against Moscow. It was out of the question for 
anyone coming from "the centre" to secure their 
cooperation unless armed with State powers. 
The Government employees in Soviet institu- 
tions took no interest in anything save their 
rations. Bureaucratic indifference and incom- 


petence in Ukraina were even worse than in 
Moscow and were augmented by nationalistic 
resentment against the "Russians/* It was 
true also of Kharkov and Poltava, though in a 
lesser degree. Here the very atmosphere was 
charged with distrust and hatred of everything 
Muscovite. The deception practised on us by 
the chairman of the Educational Department 
of Kharkov was characteristic of the resent- 
ment almost every Ukrainian official felt toward 
Moscow. The chairman was a Ukrainian to 
the core, but he could not openly ignore our cre- 
dentials signed by Zinoviev and Lunacharsky. 
He promised to aid our efforts but he disliked the 
idea of Petrograd "absorbing" the historic 
material of the Ukraina. In Kiev there was no 
attempt to mask the opposition to Moscow. One 
was made to feel it everywhere. But the mo- 
ment the magic word " America" was spoken and 
the people made to understand that one was 
not a Communist, they became interested and 
courteous, even confidential. The Ukrainian 
Communists were also no exception. 

The information and documents collected in 
Kiev were of the same character as the data 
gathered in former cities. The system of educa- 
tion, care of the sick, distribution of labour and 

KIEV 21 5, 

so forth were similar to the general Bolshevik 
scheme. "We follow the Moscow plan/' said a 
Ukrainian teacher, "with the only difference 
that in our schools the Ukrainian language is 
taught together with Russian/' The people, 
and especially the children, looked better fed 
and clad than those of Russia proper: food was 
comparatively more plentiful and cheaper. 
There were show schools as in Petrograd and 
Moscow, and no one apparently realized the cor- 
rupting effect of such discrimination upon the 
teachers as well as the children. The latter 
looked with envy upon the pupils of the favoured 
schools and believed that they were only for 
Communist children, which in reality was not 
the case. The teachers, on the other hand, 
knowing how little attention was paid to ordinary 
schools, were negligent in their work. All tried 
to get a position in the show schools which were 
enjoying special and varied rations. 

The chairman of the Board of Health was an 
alert and competent man, one of the few officials 
in Kiev who showed interest in the Expedition 
and its work. He devoted much time to ex- 
plaining to us the methods of his organization 
and pointing out interesting places to visit and 
the material which could be collected for the 


Museum. He especially called our attention to 
the Jewish hospital for crippled children. 

I found the latter in charge of a cultivated and 

charming man, Dr. N . For twenty years he 

had been head of the hospital and he took in- 
terest as well as pride in showing us about his 
institution and relating its history. 

The hospital had formerly been one of the 
most famous in Russia, the pride of the local 
Jews who had built and maintained it. But 
within recent years its usefulness had become 
curtailed owing to the frequent changes of 
government. It had been exposed to persecu- 
tion and repeated pogroms. Jewish patients 
critically ill were often forced out of their beds to 
make room for the favourites of this or that 
regime. The officers of the Denikin army were 
most brutal They drove the Jewish patients 
out into the street, subjected them to indignities 
and abuse, and would have killed them had it 
not been for the intercession of the hospital 
staff who at the risk of their own lives protected 
the sick. It was only the fact that the majority 
of the staff were Gentiles that saved the hospital 
and its inmates. But the shock resulted in 
numerous deaths and many patients were left 
with shattered nerves. 

KIEV 217 

The doctor also related to me the story of some 
of the patients, most of them victims of the 
Fastov pogroms. Among them were children be- 
tween the ages of six and eight, gaunt and sickly 
looking, terror stamped on their faces. They 
had lost all their kin, in some cases the whole 
family having been killed before their eyes. 
These children often waked at night, the 
physician said, in fright at their horrible dreams. 
Everything possible was being done for them, 
but so far the unfortunate children had not been 
freed from the memory of their terrible experi- 
ences at Fastov. The doctor pointed out a group 
of young girls between the ages of fourteen and 
eighteen, the worst victims of the Denikin pog- 
rom. All of them had been repeatedly outraged 
and were in a mutilated state when they came to 
the hospital; it would take years to restore them 
to health. The doctor emphasized the fact that 
no pogroms had taken place during the Bolshevik 
regime. It was a great relief to him and his staff 
to know that his patients were no longer in such 
danger. But the hospital had other difficulties. 
There was the constant interference by political 
Commissars and the daily struggle for supplies. 
"I spend most of my time in the various bu- 
reaus," he said, "instead of devoting myself to my 


patients. Ignorant officials are given power 
over the medical profession, continuously ha- 
rassing the doctors in their work." The doctor 
himself had been repeatedly arrested for sabotage 
because of his inability to comply with the 
numerous decrees and orders, frequently mu- 
tually contradictory. It was the result of a 
system in which political usefulness rather than 
professional merit played the main role. It 
often happened that a first-class physician of 
well-known repute and long experience would be 
suddenly ordered to some distant part to place 
a Communist doctor in his position. Under such 
conditions the best efforts were paralysed. More- 
over, there was the general suspicion of the in- 
telligentsia, which was a demoralizing factor. It 
was true that many of that class had sabo- 
taged, but there were also those who did he- 
roic and self-sacrificing work. The Bolsheviki, 
by their indiscriminate antagonism toward the 
intelligentsia as a class, roused prejudices and 
passions which poisoned the mainsprings of 
the cultural life of the country. The Russian 
intelligentsia had with its very blood fertilized 
the soil of the Revolution, yet it was not given 
it to reap the fruits of its long struggle. "A 
tragic fate/' the doctor remarked; "unless one 

KIEV 219 

forget it in his work, existence would be impos- 

The institution for crippled children proved 
a very model and modern hospital, located in 
the heart of a large park. It was devoted to 
the marred creatures with twisted limbs and de- 
formed bodies, victims of the great war, disease, 
and famine. The children looked aged and 
withered; like Father Time, they had been born 
old. They lay in rows on clean white beds, 
baking in the warm sun of the Ukrainian sum- 
mer. The head physician, who guided us 
through the institution, seemed much beloved 
by his little charges. They were eager and 
pleased to see him as he approached each help- 
less child and bent over affectionately to make 
some inquiries about its health. The hospital 
had been in existence for many years and was 
considered the first of its kind in Russia. Its 
equipment for the care of deformed and crip- 
pled children was among the most modern. 
" Since the war and the Revolution we feel 
rather behind the times," the doctor said; "we 
have been cut off from the civilized world for so 
many years. But in spite of the various govern- 
ment changes we have striven to keep up our 
standards and to help the unfortunate victims of 


strife and disease." The supplies for the institu- 
tion were provided by the Government and the 
hospital force was exposed to no interference, 
though I understood from the doctor that be- 
cause of his political neutrality he was looked 
upon by the Bolsheviki as inclined to counter- 

The hospital contained a large number of 
children; some of those who could walk about 
studied music and art, and we had the oppor- 
tunity of attending an informal concert arranged 
by the children and their teachers in our honour. 
Some of them played the balalaika in a most 
artistic manner, and it was consoling to see those 
marred children finding forgetfulness in the 
rhythm of the folk melodies of the Ukraina. 

Early during our stay in Kiev we learned that 
the most valuable material for the Museum was 
not to be found in the Soviet institutions, but 
that it was in the possession of other political 
groups and private persons. The best statis- 
tical information on pogroms, for instance, was 
in the hands of a former Minister of the Rada 
regime in the Ukraina. I succeeded in locating 
the man and great was my surprise when, upon 
learning my identity, he presented me with 
several copies of the Mother Earth magazine I 

KIEV 221 

had published in America. The ex-Minister 
arranged a small gathering to which were in- 
vited some writers and poets and men active in 
the Jewish Kulturliga to meet several members 
of our Expedition. The gathering consisted of 
the best elements of the local Jewish intelli- 
gentsia. We discussed the Revolution, the Bol- 
shevik methods, and the Jewish problem. Most 
of those present, though opposed to the Com- 
munist theories, were in favour of the Soviet 
Government. They felt that the Bolsheviki, in 
spite of their many blunders, were striving to 
further the interests of Russia and the Revolu- 
tion. At any rate, under the Communist regime 
the Jews were not exposed to the pogroms prac- 
tised upon them by all the other regimes of 
Ukraina. Those Jewish intellectuals argued 
that the Bolsheviki at least permitted the Jews 
to live, and that they were therefore to be pre- 
ferred to any other governments and should be 
supported by the Jews. They were fearful of 
the growth of anti-Semitism in Russia and 
were horrified at the possibility of the Bolshe- 
viki being overthrown. Wholesale slaughter 
of the Jews would undoubtedly follow, they be- 

Some of the younger set held a different view. 


The Bolshevik regime had resulted in increased 
hatred toward the Jews, they said, for the masses 
were under the impression that most of the Com- 
munists were Jews. Communism stood for 
forcible tax-collection, punitive expeditions, and 
the Tcheka. Popular opposition to the Com- 
munists therefore expressed itself in the hatred 
of the whole Jewish race. Thus Bolshevik 
tyranny had added fuel to the latent anti- 
Semitism of the Ukraina. Moreover, to prove 
that they were not discriminating in favour of 
the Jews, the Bolsheviki had gone to the other 
extreme and frequently arrested and punished 
Jews for things that the Gentiles could do with 
impunity. The Bolsheviki also fostered and 
endowed cultural work in the south in the 
Ukrainian language, while at the same time they 
discouraged such efforts in the Jewish language. 
It was true that the Kulturliga was still per- 
mitted to exist, but its work was hampered at 
every step. In short, the Bolsheviki permitted 
the Jews to live, but only in a physical sense. 
Culturally, they were condemned to death. 
The Yevkom (Jewish Communist Section) was 
receiving, of course, every advantage and sup- 
port from the Government, but then its mission 
was to carry the gospel of the proletarian dicta- 

KIEV 223 

torship to the Jews of the Ukraina. It was 
significant that the Yevkom was more anti-Semi- 
tic than the Ukrainians themselves. If it had 
the power it would pogrom every non-Com- 
munist Jewish organization and destroy all 
Jewish educational efforts. This young element 
emphasized that they did not favour the over- 
throw of the Bolshevik Government; but they 
could not support it, either. 

I felt that both Jewish factions took a purely 
nationalistic view of the Russian situation. I 
could well understand their personal attitude, 
the result of their own suffering and the persecu- 
tion of the Jewish race. Still, my chief concern 
Was the Revolution and its effects upon Russia 
as a whole. Whether the Bolsheviki should be 
supported or not could not depend merely on 
their attitude to the Jews and the Jewish ques- 
tion. The latter was surely a very vital and 
pressing issue, especially in the Ukraina; yet the 
general problem involved was much greater. 
It embraced the complete economic and social 
emancipation of the whole people of Russia, the 
Jews included. If the Bolshevik methods and 
practices were not imposed upon them by the 
force of circumstances, if they were conditioned 
in their own theories and principles, and if their 


sole object was to secure their own power, I 
could not support them. They might be inno- 
cent of pogroms against the Jews, but if they 
were pogroming the whole of Russia then they 
had failed in their mission as a revolutionary 
party. I was not prepared to say that I had 
reached a clear understanding of all the prob- 
lems involved, but my experience so far led me to 
think that it was the basic Bolshevik conception 
of the Revolution which was false, its practical 
application necessarily resulting in the great 
Russian catastrophe of which the Jewish tragedy 
was but a minor part. 

My host and his friends could not agree with 
my viewpoint: we represented opposite camps. 
But the gathering was nevertheless intensely 
interesting and it was arranged that we meet 
again before our departure from the city. 

Returning to our car one day I saw a detach- 
ment of Red Army soldiers at the railway sta- 
tion. On inquiry I found that foreign delegates 
were expected from Moscow and that the 
soldiers had been ordered out to participate in a 
demonstration in their honour. Groups of the 
uniformed men stood about discussing the ar- 
rival of the mission. There were many ex- 
pressions of dissatisfaction because the soldiers 

KIEV 225 

had been kept waiting so long. "These people 
come to Russia just to look us over/' one of the 
Red Army men said; "do they know anything 
about us or are they interested in how we live ? 
Not they. It's a holiday for them. They are 
dressed up and fed by the Government, but they 
never talk to us and all they see is how we 
march past. Here we have been lying around 
in the burning sun for hours while the delegates 
are probably being feasted at some other station. 
That's comradeship and equality for you!" 

I had heard such sentiments voiced before, 
but it was surprising to hear them from soldiers. 
I thought of Angelica Balabanova, who was ac- 
companying the Italian Mission, and I wondered 
what she would think if she knew how the men 
felt. It had probably never occurred to her that 
those "ignorant Russian peasants" in military 
uniform had looked through the sham of official 

The following day we received an invitation 
from Balabanova to attend a banquet given 
in honour of the Italian delegates. Anxious 
to meet the foreign guests, several members of 
our Expedition accepted the invitation. 

The affair took place in the former Chamber 
of Commerce building, profusely decorated for 


the occasion. In the main banquet hall long 
tables were heavily laden with fresh-cut flowers, 
several varieties of southern fruit, and wine. 
The sight reminded one of the feasts of the old 
bourgeoisie, and I could see that Angelica felt 
rather uncomfortable at the lavish display of 
silverware and wealth. The banquet opened 
with the usual toasts, the guests drinking to 
Lenin, Trotsky, the Red Army, and the Third 
International, the whole company rising as the 
revolutionary anthem was intoned after each 
toast, with the soldiers and officers standing at 
attention in good old military style. 

Among the delegates were two young French 
Anarcho-syndicalists. They had heard of our 
presence in Kiev and had been looking for us all 
day without being able to locate us. After the 
banquet they were immediately to leave for 
Petrograd, so that we had only a short time at 
our disposal. On our way to the station the 
delegates related that they had collected much 
material on the Revolution which they intended 
to publish in France. They had become con- 
vinced that all was not well with the Bolshevik 
regime : they had come to realize that the dicta- 
torship of the proletariat was in the exclusive 
hands of the Communist Party, while the com- 

KIEV 227 

mon worker was enslaved as much as ever. It 
was their intention, they said, to speak frankly 
about these matters to their comrades at home 
and to substantiate their attitude by the ma- 
terial in their possession. " Do you expect to get 
the documents out?" I asked La Petit, one of 
the delegates. " You don't mean that I might be 
prevented from taking out my own notes," he 
replied. "The Bolsheviki would not dare to go so 
far not with foreign delegates, at any rate." 
He seemed so confident that I did not care to 
pursue the subject further. That night the 
delegates left Kiev and a short time afterward 
they departed from Russia, They were never 
seen alive again. Without making any com- 
ment upon their disappearance I merely want to 
mention that when I returned to Moscow several 
months later it was generally related that the 
two Anarcho-syndicalists, with several other 
men who had accompanied them, were over- 
taken by a storm somewhere off the coast of Fin- 
land, and were all drowned. There were rumours 
of foul play, though I am not inclined to credit 
the story, especially in view of the fact that to- 
gether with the Anarcho-syndicalists also per- 
ished a Communist in good standing in Moscow. 
But their disappearance with all the documents 


they had collected has never been satisfactorily 

The rooms assigned to the members of our 
Expedition were located in a house within a 
passage leading off the Kreschatik, the main 
street of Kiev. It had formerly been the wealthy 
residential section of the city and its fine houses, 
though lately neglected, still looked imposing. 
The passage also contained a number of shops, 
ruins of former glory, which catered to the well- 
to-do of the neighbourhood. Those stores still 
had good supplies of vegetables, fruit, milk, and 
butter. They were owned mostly by old Jews 
whose energies could not be applied to any 
other usefulness Orthodox Jews to whom the 
Revolution and the Bolsheviki were a bete noire, 
because that had "ruined all business." The 
little shops barely enabled their owners to exist; 
moreover, they were in constant danger of 
Tcheka raids, on which occasions the provisions 
would be expropriated. The appearance of 
those stores did not justify the belief that the 
Government would find it worth while raiding 
them. "Would not the Tcheka prefer to con- 
fiscate the goods of the big delicatessen and fruit 
stores on the Kreschatik ?" I asked an old Jew 
storekeeper. "Not at all," he replied; "those 

KIEV 229 

stores are immune because they pay heavy 


The morning following the banquet I went 
down to the little grocery store I used to do my 
shopping in. The place was closed, and I was 
surprised to find that not one of the small shops 
near by was open. Two days later I learned 
that the places had all been raided on the eve of 
the banquet in order to feast the foreign delegates. 
I promised myself never to attend another Bol- 
shevik banquet. 

Among the members of the Kulturliga I met a 
man who had lived in America, but for several 
years now was with his family in Kiev. His 
home proved one of the most hospitable during 
my stay in the south, and as he had many callers 
belonging to various social classes I was able to 
gather much information about the recent his- 
tory of Ukraina. My host was not a Com- 
munist : though critical of the Bolshevik regime, 
he was by no means antagonistic. He used to 
say that the main fault of the Bolsheviki was 
their lack of psychological perception. He as- 
serted that no government had ever such a 
great opportunity in the Ukraina as the Com- 
munists. The people had suffered so much 
from the various occupations and were so op- 


pressed by every new regime that they rejoiced 
when the Bolsheviki entered Kiev. Everybody 
hoped that they would bring relief. But the 
Communists quickly destroyed all illusions. 
Within a few months they proved themselves 
entirely incapable of administering the affairs of 
the city; their methods antagonized the people, 
and the terrorism of the Tcheka turned even the 
friends of the Communists to bitter enmity. 
Nobody objected to the nationalization of in- 
dustry and it was of course expected that the 
Bolsheviki would expropriate. But when the 
bourgeoisie had been relieved of its possessions 
it was found that only the raiders benefited. 
Neither the people at large nor even the proleta- 
rian class gained anything. Precious jewellery, 
silverware, furs, practically the whole wealth 
of Kiev seemed to disappear and was no more 
heard of. Later members of the Tcheka strutted 
about the streets with their women gowned in 
the finery of the bourgeoisie. When private 
business places were closed, the doors were locked 
and sealed and guards placed there. But within 
a few weeks the stores were found empty. This 
kind of "management" and the numerous new 
laws and edicts, often mutually conflicting, 
served the Tcheka as a pretext to terrorize and 

KIEV 231 

mulct the citizens and aroused general hatred 
against the Bolsheviki. The people had turned 
against Petlura, Denikin, and the Poles. They 
welcomed the Bolsheviki with open arms. But 
the last disappointed them as the first. 

"Now we have gotten used to the situation," 
my host said, "we just drift and manage as best 
we can." But he thought it a pity that the 
Bolsheviki lost such a great chance. They were 
unable to hold the confidence of the people and 
to direct that confidence into constructive chan- 
nels. Not only had the Bolsheviki failed to 
operate the big industries: they also destroyed 
the small kustarnaya work. There had been 
thousands of artisans in the province of Kiev, 
for instance; most of them had worked by them- 
selves, without exploiting any one. They were 
independent producers who supplied a certain 
need of the community. The Bolsheviki in their 
reckless scheme of nationalization suspended 
those efforts without being able to replace them 
by aught else. They had nothing to give either 
to the workers or to the peasants. The city 
proletariat faced the alternative of starving in 
the city or going back to the country. They 
preferred the latter, of course. Those who 
could not get to the country engaged in trade, 


buying and selling jewellery, for instance. Prac- 
tically everybody in Russia had become a 
tradesman, the Bolshevik Government no less 
than private speculators. "You have no idea 
of the amount of illicit business carried on by 
officials in Soviet institutions," my host in- 
formed me; "nor is the army free from it. My 
nephew, a Red Army officer, a Communist, has 
just returned from the Polish front. He can tell 
you about these practices in the army." 

I was particularly eager to talk to the young 
officer. In my travels I had met many soldiers, 
and I found that most of them had retained the 
old slave psychology and bowed absolutely to 
military discipline. Some, however, were very 
wide awake and could see clearly what was hap- 
pening about them. A certain small element 
in the Red Army was entirely transformed by 
the Revolution. It was proof of the gestation 
of new life and new forms which set Russia apart 
from the rest of the world, notwithstanding 
Bolshevik tyranny and oppression. For that 
element the Revolution had a deep significance. 
They saw in it something vital which even the 
daily decrees could not compress within the 
narrow Communist mould. It was their attitude 
and general sentiment that the Bolsheviki had 

KIEV 233 

not kept faith with the people. They saw the 
Communist State growing at the cost of the 
Revolution, and some of them even went so far 
as to voice the opinion that the Bolsheviki had 
become the enemies of the Revolution. But 
they all felt that for the time being they could do 
nothing. They were determined to dispose of 
the foreign enemies first. "Then/' they would 
say, "we will face the enemy at home/' 

The Red Army officer proved a fine-looking 
young fellow very deeply in earnest. At first 
he was disinclined to talk, but in the course of 
the evening he grew less embarrassed and ex- 1 
pressed his feelings freely. He had found much 
corruption at the front, he said. But it was 
even worse at the base of supplies where he had 
done duty for some time. The men at the front 
were practically without clothes or shoes. The 
food was insufficient and the Army was ravaged 
by typhoid and cholera. Yet the spirit of the 
men was wonderful. They fought bravely, 
enthusiastically, because they believed in their 
ideal of a free Russia. But while they were 
fighting and dying for the great cause, the higher 
officers, the so-called tovaristchi, sat in safe re- 
treat and there drank and gambled and got rich 
by speculation. The supplies so desperately 


needed at the front were being sold at fabulous 
prices to speculators. 

The young officer had become so disheartened 
by the situation, he had thought of committing 
suicide. But now he was determined to return 
to the front. " I shall go back and tell my com- 
rades what I have seen/' he said; "our real work 
will begin when we have defeated foreign inva- 
sion. Then we shall go after those who are trad- 
ing away the Revolution." 

I felt there was no cause to despair so long as 
Russia possessed such spirits. 

I returned to my room to find our secretary 
waiting to report the valuable find she had made. 
It consisted of rich Denikin material stacked in 
the city library and apparently forgotten by 
everybody. The librarian, a zealous Ukrainian 
nationalist, refused to permit the "Russian" 
Museum to take the material, though it was of no 
use to Kiev, literally buried in an obscure corner 
and exposed to danger and ruin. We decided to 
appeal to the Department of Education and to 
apply the "American amulet." It grew to be a 
standing joke among the members of the Expedi- 
tion to resort to the " amulet " in difficult situations. 
Such matters were always referred to Alex- 
ander Berkman and myself as the "Americans." 

KIEV 235 

It required considerable persuasion to interest 
the chairman in the matter. He persisted in 
refusing till I finally asked him: "Are you willing 
that it become known in America that you prefer 
to have valuable historical material rot away in 
Kiev rather than give it to the Petrograd Mu- 
seum, which is sure to become a world centre for 
the study of the Russian Revolution and where 
Ukraina is to have such an important part?" 
At last the chairman issued the required order 
and our Expedition took possession of the ma- 
terial, to the great elation of our secretary, to 
whom the Museum represented the most im- 
portant interest in life. 

In the afternoon of the same day I was visited 
by a woman Anarchist who was accompanied by 
a young peasant girl, confidentially introduced 
as the wife of Makhno. My heart stood still for 
a moment: the presence of that girl in Kiev 
meant certain death were she discovered by 
the Bolsheviki. It also involved grave dan- 
ger to my landlord and his family, for in Com- 
munist Russia harbouring even if unwittingly 
a member of the Makhno povstantsi often in- 
curred the worst consequences. I expressed 
surprise at the young woman's recklessness in 
thus walking into the very jaws of the enemy. 


But she explained that Makhno was determined 
to reach us; he would trust no one else with the 
message, and therefore she had volunteered to 
come. It was evident that danger had lost all 
terror for her. "We have been living in con- 
stant peril for years/' she said simply. 

Divested of her disguise, she revealed much 
beauty. She was a woman of twenty-five, with 
a wealth of jet-black hair of striking lustre. 
"Nestor had hoped that you and Alexander 
Berkman would manage to come, but he waited 
in vain/' she began. "Now he sent me to tell 
you about the struggle he is waging and he hopes 
that you will make his purpose known to the 
world outside/' Late into the night she related 
the story of Makhno which tallied in all im- 
portant features with that told us by the two 
Ukrainian visitors in Petrograd. She dwelt 
on the methods employed by the Bolsheviki to 
eliminate Makhno and the agreements they had 
repeatedly made with him, every one of which 
had been broken by the Communists the mo- 
ment immediate danger from invaders was over. 
She spoke of the savage persecution of the mem- 
bers of the Makhno army and of the numerous 
attempts of the Bolsheviki to trap and kill Nes- 
tor. That failing, the Bolsheviki had murdered 

KIEV 237 

his brother and had exterminated her own 
family, including her father and brother. She 
praised the revolutionary devotion, the heroism 
and endurance of the povstantsi in the face of the 
greatest difficulties, and she entertained us with 
the legends the peasants had woven about the 
personality of Makhno. Thus, for instance, 
there grew up among the country folk the belief 
that Makhno was invulnerable because he had 
never been wounded during all the years of 
warfare, in spite of his practice of always per- 
sonally leading every charge. 

She was a good conversationalist, and her 
tragic story was relieved by bright touches of 
humour. She told many anecdotes about the 
exploits of Makhno. Once he had caused a 
wedding to be celebrated in a village occupied by 
the enemy. It was a gala affair, everybody 
attending. While the people were making merry 
on the market place and the soldiers were suc- 
cumbing to the temptation of drink, Makhno's 
men surrounded the village and easily routed 
the superior forces stationed there. Having 
taken a town it was always Makhno's practice } 
to compel the rich peasants, the kuldki y to give 
up their surplus wealth, which was then divided 
among the poor, Makhno keeping a share for his 


army. Then he would call a meeting of the 
villagers, address them on the purposes of the 
povstantsi movement, and distribute his litera- 

Late into the night the young woman related 
the story of Makhno and makhnovstchina. Her 
voice, held low because of the danger of the 
situation, was rich and mellow, her eyes shone 
with the intensity of emotion. " Nestor wants 
you to tell the comrades of America and Europe," 
she concluded, "that he is one of them an 
Anarchist whose aim is to defend the Revolution 
against all enemies. He is trying to direct the 
innate rebellious spirit of the Ukrainian peasant 
into organized Anarchist channels. He feels 
that he cannot accomplish it himself without the 
aid of the Anarchists of Russia. He himself is 
entirely occupied with military matters, and he 
has therefore invited his comrades throughout 
the country to take charge of the educational 
work. His ultimate plan is to take possession of 
a small territory in Ukraina and there establish 
a free commune. Meanwhile, he is determined 
to fight every reactionary force." 

Makhno was very anxious to confer personally 
with Alexander Berkman and myself, and he 
proposed the following plan. He would arrange 

KIEV 239 

to take any small town or village between Kiev 
and Kharkov where our car might happen to be. 
It would be carried out without any use of vio- 
lence, the place being captured by surprise. The 
stratagem would have the appearance of our 
having been taken prisoners, and protection 
would be guaranteed to the other members of the 
Expedition. After our conference we would be 
given safe conduct to our car. It would at the 
same time insure us against the Bolsheviki, for 
the whole scheme would be carried out in mili- 
tary manner, similar to a regular Makhno raid. 
The plan promised a very interesting adventure 
and we were anxious for an opportunity to meet 
Makhno personally. Yet we could not expose 
the other members of the Expedition to the risk 
involved in such an undertaking. We decided 
not to avail ourselves of the offer, hoping that 
another occasion might present itself to meet the 
povstantsi leader. 

Makhno's wife had been a country school 
teacher; she possessed considerable information 
and was intensely interested in all cultural prob- 
lems. She plied me with questions about Ameri- 
can women, whether they had really become 
emancipated and enjoyed equal rights. The 
young woman had been with Makhno and his 


army for several years, but she could not recon- 
cile herself to the primitive attitude of her people 
in regard to woman. The Ukrainian woman, 
she said, was considered an object of sex and 
motherhood only. Nestor himself was no ex- 
ception in this matter. Was it different in 
America ? Did the American woman believe in 
free motherhood and was she familiar with the 
subject of birth control ? 

It was astonishing to hear such questions from 
a peasant girl. I thought it most remarkable 
that a woman born and reared so far from the 
scene of woman's struggle for emancipation 
should yet be so alive to its problems. I spoke 
to the girl of the activities of the advanced 
women of America, of their achievements and 
of the work yet to be done for woman's emanci- 
pation. I mentioned some of the literature 
dealing with these subjects. She listened eag- 
erly. "I must get hold of something to help 
our peasant women. They are just beasts of 
burden/ 1 she said. 

Early the next morning we saw her safely out 
of the house. The same day, while visiting the 
Anarchist club, I witnessed a peculiar sight. 
The club had recently been reopened after hav- 
ing been raided by the Tcheka. The local 

KIEV 241 

Anarchists met in the club rooms for study and 
lectures; Anarchist literature was also to be had 
there. While conversing with some friends I 
noticed a group of prisoners passing on the street 
below. Just as they neared the Anarchist head- 
quarters several of them looked up, having evi- 
dently noticed the large sign over the club 
rooms. Suddenly they straightened up, took 
off their caps, bowed, and then passed on. I 
turned to my friends. " Those peasants are 
probably makhnovstsi^ they said; "the Anarchist 
headquarters are sacred precincts to them." 
How exceptional the Russian soul, I thought, 
wondering whether a group of American work- 
ers or farmers could be so imbued with an 
ideal as to express it in the simple and significant 
way the makhnovstsi did. To the Russian his 
belief is indeed an inspiration. 

Our stay in Kiev was rich in varied experiences 
and impressions. It was a strenuous time dur- 
ing which we met people of different social strata 
and gathered much valuable information and 
material. We closed our visit with a short trip 
on the river Dniepr to view some of the old 
monasteries and cathedrals, among them the 
celebrated Sophievski and Vladimir. Imposing 
edifices, which remained intact during all the 


revolutionary changes, even their inner life con- 
tinuing as before. In one of the monasteries 
we enjoyed the hospitality of the sisters who 
treated us to real Russian tea, black bread, and 
honey. They lived as if nothing had happened 
in Russia since 1914; it was as if they had passed 
the last years outside of the world. The monks 
still continued to show to the curious the sacred 
caves of the Vladimir Cathedral and the places 
where the saints had been walled in, their ossified 
bodies now on exhibition. Visitors were daily 
taken through the vaults, the accompanying 
priests pointing out the cells of the celebrated 
martyrs and reciting the biographies of the most 
important of the holy family. Some of the 
stories related were wonderful beyond all human 
credence, breathing holy superstition with every 
pore. The Red Army soldiers in our group 
looked rather dubious at the fantastic tales of 
the priests. Evidently the Revolution had in- 
fluenced their religious spirit and developed a 
sceptical attitude toward miracle workers.